A former Eastern Washington University student who claims a respected professor sexually assaulted her is suing him and the school.
April Strader, who graduated with honors in 1996, filed a civil lawsuit this week in Spokane County Superior Court.
She is seeking unspecified damages from EWU and William Daniel Perdue, a former sociology professor at the university.
Strader maintains in the suit that Perdue got her drunk at an off-campus bar in March 1996, then sexually assaulted her for several hours. He denies the charges.
She was taking a class from Perdue at the time, and he also was acting as her “mentor and adviser,” according to the suit.
He asked her to go with him to the Ramada Inn lounge near Spokane International Airport so they could talk about her classes and work at the college newspaper, the suit states.
Strader claims she is suffering “economic, physical and emotional damages as a result of the mental distress she has experienced.”
In May 1996, sheriff’s detectives investigated her complaints, as well as those of another student who claimed Perdue fondled her. Prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Perdue’s attorney, Carl Hueber of Spokane, said his client passed a lie-detector test as part of that investigation.
Soon after, Perdue negotiated an early retirement from the university, which included a two-year leave of absence without pay.
Perdue, who had taught at the Cheney school since 1969 and had been honored as a teacher and author, was forbidden from returning to campus as part of the agreement.
Strader says her constitutional rights were violated because Perdue’s actions amounted to sex discrimination. The university has a duty to protect its students from such discrimination, the suit contends.
On Thursday, Hueber called the suit a last-ditch effort by Strader to get money. Perdue and EWU rejected a claim for damages filed by her in July 1996.
“Allegations of sexual misconduct coupled with monetary claims are easily made,” he said. “There are two sides to every story. Dr. Perdue looks forward to telling his side in a courtroom and is confident he will be fully exonerated.”
Perdue, 54, also intends to counter-sue for defamation, Hueber said.
EWU spokeswoman Stefanie Pettit said university policy prohibits her from commenting. “There are some things I’d like to say, but I can’t at this time,” she said.
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