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RAPE VICTIM SUES UMW
A $10 million lawsuit accuses the University of Mary Washington of negligence in the case of a rape at the school's parking garage

  • PDF: Read the plaintiff's complaint (PDF, 1.31Mb)
  • Related: UMW student injured in sexual assault

  • Date published: 12/1/2010

    BY JEFF BRANSCOME

    A $10 million lawsuit filed yesterday against the University of Mary Washington says poor security resulted in a student's rape at the school's parking garage.

    The student, who was attacked early on Oct. 3, 2008, is suing the university for negligence.

    The attacker entered the parking deck without being stopped, videotaped or photographed, the lawsuit states. He was able to flee as a result of the "open, unattended and improperly secured entrance to the UMW parking deck."

    "Each and every action taken by [the student's] attacker was reasonably foreseeable by UMW," the suit states. The complaint says a student is more likely to be a crime victim on a college campus than nearly anywhere else.

    Local attorney Lewis Lowery filed the lawsuit in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. It names the commonwealth of Virginia as the defendant because UMW is a state agency.

    UMW President Rick Hurley declined to comment yesterday. Efforts to reach the university's representative in the state attorney general's office for comment were unsuccessful.

    The plaintiff was a sophomore at the time of the rape. She was walking from her car on the third floor of the four-story parking deck when she was assaulted about 2 a.m., a UMW spokeswoman said at the time. The parking deck is off U.S. 1 next to the Fredericksburg campus's intramural field.

    The lawsuit says the victim was heading to her dorm room in Virginia Hall.

    The Free Lance-Star isn't naming the student--who has since left the university--because it is the newspaper's policy not to identify rape victims.

    The attacker has not been arrested.

    The lawsuit's allegations against UMW include:

    Negligent security measures.

    Failure to properly monitor the parking deck, which the complaint says UMW officials should have known to be dangerous.

    Failure to warn students of dangers in the parking deck.

    Failure to install and operate security cameras.

    Failure to train security guards, campus police officers and others on how to report, investigate and prevent sexual assaults.

    Failure to properly investigate complaints of rape and provide adequate security.

    The suit says UMW creates "an illusion of campus security." The school's literature and other advertising material "emphasize safety and note the presence of campus police."

    The university assumed responsibilities for the victim's safety because she was a full-time student who lived on campus, according to the lawsuit.


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