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Jane Doe vs. Northern Kentucky University lawsuit is settled in private conference with Judge Bertlesman

Reliable sources say the Jane Doe vs. Northern Kentucky University lawsuit was settled today in a private conference with Judge William O. Bertlesman following the pre-trial meeting at the federal courthouse in Covington.

The Judge moved to private quarters around 11:30 after excusing the press.

Both sides agreed to the monetary settlement.

Sources say the settlement was $900,000.

The case involved the rape of freshman student Jane Doe by a fellow student in an on-campus dorm in 2013. Doe took her case through the university process and that committee found in her favor.

After a six-month voluntary hiatus for military reserve training, the rapist returned to campus. Doe claimed the university did not sufficiently protect her from him after his return.

Jane Doe, who had a full scholarship from NKU, graduated in May with honors. She has since been admitted to Oxford University where she is in a masters’ program. She intends to go on to get her Ph.D. at Edinburg University where she will specialize in studying eating disorders.

“This has been very difficult,” she told the NKyTribune. “I really wanted a trial, but I knew it would be hard. Now I can get on with my life and try to put this behind me.”

She leaves for Oxford in late September.

“Her courage to file this lawsuit and refuse to give in, ultimately resulted in many changes in NKU’s sexual abuse policies,” said her attorney Kevin Murphy.

“They better train their hearing panel members. They are meting out stronger discipline. They recognized the problem in the athletics department. None of which may have occurred without this lawsuit.

“This proves one person can make a difference. There may be plenty of young women who never have to face what she has had to face — because of her courage.”

At 2:17 today, the judge issued a notice that the jury selection and trial date are cancelled, that all pending motions are denied as moot and that the case is “hereby DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the docket of this court.”

During the course of depositions and motions in the case, details emerged about sexual misconduct among some members of the NKU basketball team in 2014-15, about a lack of adherence to written policies and procedures involving handling and reporting of sexual assaults on campus, about documents NKU kept from Doe, and more.

There have been key personnel changes in the university in the meantime.

For those who missed it, here is the NKyTribune’s earlier story today in advance of the pre-trial hearing.

Staff report

A second pre-trial conference in the Jane Doe vs. Northern Kentucky University lawsuit will be held Wednesday morning in Judge William Bertlesman’s federal district court in Covington.

At issue is that Jane Doe, then a freshman student at NKU, filed a lawsuit against the University for a rape that occurred in a campus dorm room in 2013. She claims the university did not enforce its own rules to protect her sufficiently from her rapist who also continued to be a student at the university.

The “un-recused” Judge Bertlesman has set a trial date for September 11 at 10 a.m. and said he will start jury selection on September 7 at 10 a.m. He has limited the trial to 10 days and therefore is limiting witnesses as well.

Judge Bertlelsman

A flurry of back-and-forth motions have heated up the court records since the Appeals Court summarily dismissed Northern Kentucky University’s motion to have Judge Bertlesman “recused” — that is, dismissed as the trial judge.

The motions deal with a range of issues to be decided as the trial date approaches. The witnesses, for one. The issues allowed and not allowed, for another. Definitions of “deliberate indifference” and the use of the Rape Shield Act for others.

But a motion filed late Tuesday by Jane Doe’s attorney, Kevin Murphy, deserves attention, as it calls into play a complaint that runs through the proceedings — that Northern Kentucky University failed to deliver documents crucial to the case in a timely and forthright manner.

The latest motion — a “Second Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Motion for Sanctions” — says that on Monday, August 21, NKU produced 298 pages of documents related to the case. It asks for “severe sanctions” against NKU for “concealing key evidence.”

The argument is that since it is too late for new depositions, the plaintiff did not have documents necessary to inform her case or give her an opportunity to call important witnesses.

Judge Bertlesman has already sanctioned NKU once in the case, and there are other motions for sanctions on the table.

In March, 2016, NKU had responded that “no documents and/or reports have been submitted by NKU or anyone on its behalf to any governmental agency about sexual assaults, rape, sexual misconduct other than the inclusion of the report of sexual assault in NKU’s campus crime statistics in accordance with the Clery Act and the VAWA, which may be found at https://police.nku.edu/ safety/CleryAct/securityreports.html.”

It turns out that there were documents — 298 pages of them turned over Monday — that were in reports to the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women back in 2013.

NKU had received a $298,000 grant for funding of “prevention strategies” related to campus sexual abuse. As a condition of the grant, semi-annual reports were required to the federal funding agency on how it was spending the money, and what was being done in areas such as training Title IX hearing panels, training the campus police on sexual violence, and other similar important criteria.

The brief filed on Jane Doe’s behalf by Murphy argues that NKU intended to conceal key evidence.

The documents contain admissions that NKU had a problem with a “certain population” of the Athletic Department, specifically certain members of the basketball team.

The report to the federal agency said “there was a gap in our hearing panel trainings that didn’t address the trauma a survivor may experience when sexually assaulted” and that “all survivors respond differently.”

Within the pages is concern that the NKU police were not adequately trained, a point former NKU Police Chief Les Kachurek made in his deposition in the case.

Another page of the report seems to refer directly to Jane Doe’s situation:

“Another significant need is ways to address anxiety if a student is found responsible of sexual misconduct and only suspended for a semester. We had a survivor whose offender was only suspended for one semester after being found responsible for sexual misconduct. Once the offender is back on campus, all we can do is support that student. There aren’t many university resources besides the NVP Center in these cases.”

Going into the pre-trial conference today, this motion asks for severe sanctions against NKU for “deliberately concealing key evidence.”

Several motions for sanctions are pending before Judge William Bertelsman, who already sanctioned NKU last year for telling the Athletic Director not to answer questions during his deposition. NKU’s insurer has paid those fines, amounting to over $11,000.

In an earlier pre-trial hearing, Judge Bertlesman expressed some concern about sanctioning a public institution, sensitive apparently to tax-payer pockets.

In other motions:

* NKU has asked to be allowed to take the deposition of former NKU Police Chief Les Kachurek, although NKU counsel represented Kachurek at the time his original deposition was taken. The Judge agreed. But Murphy has filed an objection, and included an affidavit from attorney Thomas Rouse, who is an authority on legal ethics, which objects to the deposing of their former client by NKU.

* Various motions back and forth object to certain witnesses.

* A number motions related to sealing documents.

* Arguments related to the term “deliberate indifference” and to a rape victim’s protections under the Rape Shield Law.

See links to the NKyTribune’s previous stories:


Judge sanctions NKU, awards fees

Bertlesman rejects NKU request for gag order, motion to seal.


NKU student files suit against NKU

NKU’s attorneys reply to Jane Doe suit

NKU files motion for gag order

NKU student alleges assault by four members of basketball team

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One Comment

  1. Ty Adams says:

    Have to love how they admit that “NKU had a problem with a “certain population” of the Athletic Department, specifically certain members of the basketball team.” Same time they let the AD Bothof off clean despite his blatant coverups of the three basketball players assault. Bothof also wasting taxpayers money hiring his buddy Dan McIver’s wife Debbie Kirch as a compliance AD last month when everyone knows she is a complete unqualified tag-along with her hubby.

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