by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Marshall Sued by Sexual Assault Victim Claiming Title IX Violations

A woman has sued the Marshall University Board of Governor's for allegedly violating Title IX by allowing her alleged attacker to remain a student during an appeals process. 

Filed Jan. 31, 2018 in U.S. District Court, the complaint alleges that the victim abandoned her education at Marshall University due to allowing the attacker to remain a student. He was originally indicted on one count of second degree sexual assault for an incident that occurred Feb. 1, 2016 in the Freshman South Residence Hall. 

He entered a Kennedy plea before Hon. Judge Alfred Ferguson to battery which resulted in three years probation and a one year suspended jail sentence. 

The complaint alleges that the university disciplinary process did not occur in a timely manner specifically to protest the victim from the time of her initial complaint to university authorities and a university decision on her attacker's status. 

On Feb. 3, 2016, MUPD transported plaintiff and her two friends to the Cabell County Courthouse so that Plaintiff could obtain an order of protection against her attacker.

The Order of Protection was issued and served on Feb. 4 or 5th.

On Feb. 8, 2016, plaintiff was transported by MUPD to the office of Lisa Martin for an interview and filing of a complaint against the attacker. 

On Feb. 18, the attacker was interviewed by Martin.

"In the meantime, the attacker was permitted to remain on campus  and no restrictions were put in place to protect Plaintiff from encountering the attacker on campus or at university activities.

[He] wore an article of Plaintiff's clothing that he had taken from Plaintiff during a university basketball game in an act of defiance towards Plaintiff. Plaintiff reported this to Martin and informed her that she felt threatened by his presence on campus.

On March 10, 2016 , Ms. Martin ruled that the attacker had "raped" the plaintiff and ordered him expelled from Marshall University. 

On March 11, 2016, he appealed the decision. 

The next step in the process was a student conduct panel hearing which occurred on May 4, 2016. 

The complaint states that the plaintiff was not permitted to be present during the hearing, thought , the accused attacker was. He had two attorneys representing him; she had none. His attorneys misrepresented that the criminal judge had not found sufficient evidence to issue a protective order. The panel ruled in the attacker's favor.

After Plaintiff appealed to the Title IX coordinator, interim ean Carla Lappelle recommended that the man be banned from campus until resolution of the criminal case. President Gilbert suspended him from campus during the process but allowed him to continue taking "online" classes.

The university's Title IX coordinator eventually ruled in Plaintiff's favor, but the rape conclusion, the complaint stated, depended upon the outcome of the criminal case. 

After pleading guilty to battery in Cabell County Circuit Court, he was filed for reinstatement which was allowed due to his not being found guilty or responsible of  "sexual misconduct" and that the Plaintiff now was "no longer on campus."

The complaint alleges that a list of nearly 30 failures (many of them during the student conduct hearing process)  that the university created a "hostile environment that fails to discourage or prevent sexual assaults and favors the perpetrators of sexual assaults as opposed to the victim."

Plaintiff demands compensatory and punitive damages, interest and attorney fees. A jury trial is NOT demanded. The university has 20 days to respond. A Herald Dispatch article indicated MU vill vigorously defend the complaint while adding that "we maintain we followed  proper procedures in this case." 


  1. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:18-cv-00235 (421.17 KB)