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North Idaho College settles lawsuit over student’s charge of gang rape, lack of protection

Archive photo of North Idaho College (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Archive photo of North Idaho College (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

North Idaho College has settled a lawsuit filed by a young woman who charged that she was gang-raped as a 17-year-old freshman at an off-campus party in 2013, and that rather than addressing the incident, the college disciplined her when she began drinking and acting out after the attack.

NIC spokesman Tom Greene said the college reached the $75,000 settlement through its insurer, the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, “to limit the costs and distraction associated with lengthy litigation.”

NIC denied any liability or wrongdoing.

Rebecca Rainey, a Boise attorney representing the young woman, said, “We still think that they did not behave appropriately.” But she said her client agreed to the settlement for “the finality and the certainty of putting the matter behind her.”

The settlement releases all claims the young woman had against the Coeur d’Alene community college.

“My client is very young,” Rainey said. “She did not want to relive these events for another two years. She’s looking forward to getting on with her life.”

She was a freshman living in the dorms, according to the lawsuit, when the assault occurred at an off-campus party in November 2013 while she was intoxicated. The young student reported the incident to her student resident assistant, saying she felt “disgusted with herself.”

Subsequently, the college required the young woman to “enter into a behavior contract to address her drinking issues,” the lawsuit stated. It charged that she was subsequently tracked, monitored and disciplined.

NIC officials “did nothing to investigate the perpetrators of the gang rape, and instead ignored the situation entirely,” the lawsuit said, instead punishing the young woman and trying to persuade her to move out of the dorms. The lawsuit charges the school’s actions amounted to “deliberate indifference to the requirements of Title IX.”

Title IX is the federal law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs that receive federal funds.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department investigated the incident and referred it to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office, but they declined to prosecute and the case was subsequently closed.

The college has since taken several measures to prevent such incidents and comply with Title IX. Two years ago, NIC launched a bystander intervention training program for employees and students designed to create a “culture intolerant of violence.”

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