Rape victim to re-attempt suit against University

A graduate of the University of Chicago is refiling her suit against the school for not providing adequate medical treatment or a rape kit after she was date-raped in September 2005.

By Hannah Fine

A graduate of the University of Chicago is suing the school for not providing adequate medical treatment after she was date-raped in September 2005. The woman claims she was not offered a rape kit—a sexual assault evidence c-ollecting kit used to preserve samples from the attacker—and therefore the state did not have enough evidence to bring criminal charges against her alleged rapist.

Though the former student’s case was dismissed for the third time last week for not having specific enough claims, Cook County Judge Diane Larsen has allowed the woman to re-file her suit against the University. The judge will decide whether the case will go through this week.

In a statement issued in response to a Chicago Sun-Times article on the lawsuit, University spokesman Steve Kloehn said that the facts of the case have not been adequately examined.

“Because the civil complaint cited by the Sun-Times has been dismissed twice for failure to meet a fundamental legal threshold, there has been no discovery in the case, and no forum for the University to examine or respond to the allegations in the complaint. A newspaper is not the appropriate venue for that process.”

The woman, 25 at the time of the rape, prefers to remain anonymous and has filled her lawsuit under the name J. Doe. According to her lawsuit, she alleges she was raped while on a date set up by a mutual friend.

Her student health insurance required that she go to the Student Care Center (SCC) for treatment, which she did the next day. The woman claims that she was sent from the SCC to the Student Counseling and Resource Center for assistance in asking the rapist about his HIV status.

The suit asserts that medical reports from her three days of visits to the SCC mention a nurse’s concern about possible HIV transmission but include no record that anyone recommended a rape kit, or that she go to the emergency room. The suit states that the kit could have been collected if the SCC had sent her to the Medical Center.

Failure to offer a rape kit is a violation of Illinois state law. In addition, the suit claims that the SCC provided a low standard of care, and that its failure to provide a kit left the victim without enough medical evidence to press charges, both of which caused additional emotional trauma.

Kloehn refuted the claim that the woman was not offered a rape kit.

“When the woman first sought attention the day after the incident, two different staff members strongly encouraged her to be evaluated and examined for evidence of sexual assault in the emergency department of the hospital, but the woman declined,” he wrote in his statement.

“Should this case proceed, the facts will show that the University responded appropriately, with compassion and continuing support for the woman involved,” he said.