United States District Court, District of Columbia
BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises out of the unhealthy and abusive relationship
between plaintiff Ricca Prasad and “VT, ” who met
when both were undergraduate students at George Washington
University (“the University” or
“GW”). Plaintiff has sued the University under
Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), for how it responded to
her complaints about VT's physical and emotional abuse,
and she also has brought claims alleging breach of contract,
negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent
retention. Pending before the Court are the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the
reasons explained below, the Court will grant summary
judgment in favor of defendant.
pleadings in this case chronicle a disturbing saga of a
dangerous attraction between a young woman with a prior
history of emotional problems and a very troubled,
possessive, and ultimately abusive young man. Plaintiff
maintains that the school fell short of its statutory
obligation as an educational institution to protect her from
sexual harassment, and she submits that GW was negligent in
performing the duties it owed her as a student when it dealt
with her reports about VT. But she has proven neither, and
there is no cause of action available to her based on a
respect to Count One, the Title IX count, the Court finds
that at certain points in the chronology, the school was on
notice that VT's abuse of plaintiff was based on his
hostility towards her as a woman and therefore, the statutory
obligations were triggered. But GW was not deliberately
indifferent to plaintiff's plight when it responded to
the information with which it was provided, and it did not
violate the statute.
respect to Count Two, the breach of contract claim, the Court
finds that even if the contract between VT and GW was
intended to benefit the plaintiff, plaintiff as a third-party
beneficiary cannot sue the University for breach since it was
the promisee, and not the promisor, in the agreement.
negligence, plaintiff's claims fail in the absence of any
expert testimony to define the nature of the duty GW owed
plaintiff as its student and what the reasonable exercise of
professional judgment would have called for under the
complicated set of circumstances here. Plaintiff, who
suffered from serious mental health problems before she
arrived on campus, has also failed to provide any expert
testimony on the issue of causation, and there is no evidence
tying the emotional consequences she has suffered to GW's
conduct, as opposed to the abuse perpetrated by VT or other
plaintiff has failed to establish the necessary predicates
for a negligent supervision claim: a duty on the part of GW,
the employer, that arises from a source other than a statute,
and a showing that the employee himself engaged in tortious
hearing in the case made clear, plaintiff simply cannot place
her finger on the specifics of when and how GW dropped the
ball in her case. Notwithstanding the evidence of their
apparent immaturity and mental health issues, plaintiff and
VT were legally adults when they stepped under the
University's umbrella, and given overlapping statutory
obligations and privacy requirements that constrain
educational institutions, the school could not do more at
various critical junctures without plaintiff's consent.
Also, the school owed certain duties to VT, and there were
points where it may have been bound to take his rights as an
accused into account.
important, at the end of the day, the University's
conduct can only be measured against what it knew at any
given time. Thus, one cannot ignore the fact that GW's
ability to carry out its obligations in this case was
complicated by the many occasions in which plaintiff
misrepresented or failed to disclose critical information
about her ongoing contacts with VT. Indeed, it appears that
GW's efforts were often undermined by plaintiff's
unfortunate and repeated decisions to welcome VT back into
her life - both online and in person. Counsel for plaintiff
posited at oral argument that a more vigorous approach by the
school under the specific auspices of Title IX could have
made a difference, since skilled counseling might have
enabled plaintiff to separate herself from the cycle of
attraction, manipulation, and abuse sooner. It may very well
be that the contacts plaintiff reinitiated were more of a
symptom than a cause of the abuse she suffered, but there is
no question that throughout this period, the University
repeatedly offered to provide her with the counseling she
sorely needed, and it offered her access to additional
resources and tools to enforce a separation from VT, but she
declined to accept that assistance.
Court is not suggesting in any way that this survivor is to
blame for her own ordeal. But the case is here for decision
because plaintiff has taken on the burden of proving that the
University was responsible for the emotional distress she
suffered in the wake of this relationship. The school is to
be judged based on the known circumstances, and when one
considers the circumstances known to the school at the time
of plaintiff's reports, it is apparent that the situation
was never cut and dried, and it did not then and does not now
lend itself to easy solutions. The Court is not empowered -
and it lacks the expertise in any event - to decide whether
as a matter of sound educational policy or mental health
practice, the school could or should have taken a different
step, or adopted a preferable course of action, at any
particular time. The Court is required to apply the
applicable legal standards, which establish a very high bar
for plaintiff to satisfy in order to obtain the monetary
damages she seeks. A review of the entire record - which
necessarily will be set out in great detail below - makes it
clear that plaintiff has not met that burden.
autumn of 2010, Ricca Prasad entered George Washington
University as an undergraduate student. See
Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [Dkt. # 81]
(“Pl.'s SOF”) ¶ 1; Def.'s Statement
of Undisputed Material Facts [Dkt. # 60-5] (“Def.'s
SOF”) ¶ 1. The evidence shows that plaintiff
struggled with emotional and psychological issues in her
adolescence and received treatment for them before she ever
arrived on campus. See Dep. of Ricca Prasad,
Pl.'s Ex. 38 (“Prasad Dep.”) at 242:8-243:1,
250:1-251:2; XXXXX; see also
Email of Nov. 20, 2012 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s Ex. 18, at
¶ 0004288 XXXXX Nonetheless, her
freshman year began on a positive footing. She did well in
her classes and participated in the life of the university,
succeeding in academic competitions and taking an active role
in various campus groups. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 27; see
also Def.'s SOF ¶ 1 (describing plaintiff's
successful academic undergraduate record).
Plaintiff Met VT During Her Freshman Year
early 2011, during the spring of her freshman year, plaintiff
met VT, and a romantic relationship developed. Pl.'s SOF
¶ 28. Plaintiff ended the relationship at the end of the
semester, but the two resumed contact in August of 2011.
Id. ¶¶ 28-29. In September, VT stayed in
plaintiff's dorm room for three weeks before he left to
study abroad in London for the 2011-12 academic year.
Id. ¶ 29.
absence, plaintiff dated other students, and this did not sit
well with VT in London. He began sending harassing and
threatening emails, Facebook messages, and other
communications to plaintiff, her friends, and the other
students she dated. See, e.g., Pl.'s SOF
¶¶ 30-32; Facebook Messages, Pl.'s Ex. 6, at
¶ 0000601-624 (messages dated Oct. 30, 2011 to Jan. 18,
2012). VT used coarse, violent, and explicitly sexual
language when he threatened both plaintiff and her friends.
See Id. at AA0000602 (referring to plaintiff as a
“stupid cunt whore” whom he “fuck[ed] every
day”); id. at AA0000620 (“i wish i could
kill u and get away with it”); id. at
AA0000621 (referring to plaintiff as a “dirty
whore”); id. at AA0000623 (threatening that
“one day i will FIND you wherever you are and fuck you
mercilessly”). According to a timeline that plaintiff
appears to have prepared for this litigation, she began
having panic attacks in November of 2011. Pl.'s Timeline,
Pl.'s Ex. 29, at RFP 000940.
The University Imposed the First No Contact Order
January 17, 2012, plaintiff first brought the threatening
nature of VT's messages to the GW Police Department
(“GWPD”). Incident Report of Jan. 17, 2012,
Pl.'s Ex. 6, at ¶ 0000600.GWPD advised her to change
her email address and gave her a “resource card”
if she needed to speak to a counselor. Id. On
January 23, 2012, she reported the messages to GW's
Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities
(“OSRR”). OSRR Investigative Report, Pl.'s
Ex. 6, at ¶ 0000625. The next day, plaintiff emailed VT
stating that would be the last time she contacted him while
also apologizing “for the trouble that going to
[University Police Department] will have caused.” Email
of Jan. 24, 2012 from Pl. to VT, Pl.'s Ex. 131, at ¶
0004895. And on January 25, the University issued No Contact
Orders (“NCOs”). NCO of Jan. 25, 2012, Pl.'s
Ex. 6, at ¶ 0000598 (NCO directing VT not to contact
plaintiff and another unidentified individual); NCO of Jan.
25, 2012, Pl.'s Ex. 6, at ¶ 0000597 (directing
plaintiff not to contact VT); Def.'s SOF ¶ 8.
January 26, 2012, plaintiff went to the GW counseling center
in connection with an “[e]motionally abusive
relationship, ” but she did not seek further sessions
there because of scheduling issues. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 33;
Mental Health Servs. File, Pl.'s Ex. 3, at RFP 001589
(indicating she would rather use her insurance to find
February 6, 2012, plaintiff sent GWPD investigator Jason
Engel copies of the messages from VT that she had previously
provided to OSRR. Email of Feb. 6, 2012 from Pl. to Engel,
Pl.'s Ex. 40, at ¶ 0009394-417. Engel gave plaintiff
GWPD's emergency contact number and the name and contact
information for its Coordinator of Victims' Services Erin
Harpine, in case VT returned to campus from London and
threatened her. Email of Feb. 7, 2012 from Engel to Pl.,
Def.'s Ex. 81, at ¶ 0009393. He told her that
Harpine could provide her with more information on how to
obtain a Temporary Restraining Order or a Civil Protection
Order from D.C. Superior Court. Id. On March 19,
2012, Engle contacted plaintiff again because he was informed
by plaintiff's family that VT might have been back on
campus. Email of Mar. 19, 2012 from Engle to Pl., Def.'s
Ex. 82, at ¶ 0009391. He gave her GWPD's and
Harpine's contact information again, and noted that
Harpine was in charge of the department's Violence
Awareness Program. Id. Plaintiff did not contact
Harpine. Prasad Dep. at 30:7-31:3.
the fact that the No Contact Order was in place, the record
reflects that plaintiff communicated with VT. Prasad Dep. at
29:5-8; see Facebook Messages, Def.'s Ex. 4, at
RFP 000221 (showing messages dated March 9, 2012 and later).
While she told him not to send more emails, Email of May 16,
2012 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s Ex. 10, at ¶ 0004772
(“I will not be talking to you for at least another
month, probably longer. . . . I will not be
responding/reading any emails from you.”), she also
gave him instructions on how to transmit material to her
through other means. Id. (giving VT an address to
which he could mail a flash drive). Plaintiff testified in
deposition that she did not recall the flash drive referenced
in the email, but she stated that she gave VT the address of
a friend to use XXXXX. Prasad Dep. at
31:7-34:13. Plaintiff also reports that during the
time between February and June 2012, she “developed
problems sleeping for the first time, ” and
“began having anxiety attacks more frequently.”
Pl.'s Timeline, Pl.'s Ex. 29, at RFP 000941. But she
continued to communicate with VT during the summer of 2012,
see Facebook Messages, Def.'s Ex. 4, at RFP
000140-183, and on August 26, 2012, they met in person.
See Email of Aug. 26, 2012 from Pl. to VT,
Def.'s Ex. 11, at RFP 000572; Prasad Dep. at 37:11-39:4
(testifying that she wanted to meet “for closure”
before she left for the fall semester to study abroad).
fall of 2012, plaintiff left the United States to study in
Barcelona for a semester, Prasad Dep. at 39:5-16, while VT
returned to GW after his year in London. See
Academic Tr. of VT, Pl.'s Ex. 81, at ¶ 0001110-11.
While she was in Barcelona, plaintiff experienced a number of
disturbing encounters unrelated to VT. XXXXX XXXXX.
she was abroad, plaintiff did not see VT in person, Prasad
Dep. at 39:17-19, but she continued to communicate with him
through LinkedIn and other means. Id. at 40:9-43:9;
LinkedIn Message of Sept. 18, 2012 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s
Ex. 12, at ¶ 0007691; Email of Sept. 18, 2012 from Pl.
to VT, Def.'s Ex. 13, at ¶ 0004426; Pl.'s
Timeline, Pl.'s Ex. 29, at RFP 000941 (stating that VT
“helped me get through a lot of my lowest and loneliest
moments” while abroad).
October 18, 2012, plaintiff asked the University to lift the
No Contact Order. Omitting any mention of the ongoing
dialogue with VT, she stated: “I'm currently abroad
and have been out of contact with [VT] for a long time, but
when I return, I really don't want this order still
hanging over my head.” Email of Oct. 18, 2012 from Pl.
to OSRR Assistant Director Lindsay McConnell, Def.'s Ex.
16, at ¶ 0010276. In response, McConnell asked to meet
in person to discuss the request when plaintiff returned from
Barcelona, but plaintiff insisted that the order be lifted
before then: “Back in the winter the situation was
getting out of control and I can see why the university had
to step in, but at this point I don't not [sic] want nor
need GW to be involved in my personal life.”
Id. In early November 2012, OSRR Director Gabriel
Slifka spoke to both plaintiff and VT about the request,
advising them that if the order was lifted, it could be
reinstated if Slifka believed that was appropriate. Entries
of Nov. 6 and 7, 2012, OSRR File Notes Form, Def.'s Ex.
70, at ¶ 0000475.
The University Lifted the First No Contact Order at
January 3, 2013, GW lifted the No Contact Order. OSRR Admin.
Action /Additional Correspondence, Def.'s Ex. 19, at
¶ 0000585-90. This rescission allowed VT to visit
university housing again. Id. at ¶ 000587.
early 2013, plaintiff returned to GW from Barcelona, and she
and VT “began a committed, ” but tumultuous,
relationship. Pl.'s Timeline, Pl.'s Ex. 29, at RFP
000941-42. During this time, the two exchanged hundreds of
text messages, Text Messages from Jan. 1, 2013 to Mar. 21,
2013, Def.'s Ex. 20, at RFP 000574-809, and XXXXX.
record also shows that their consensual sexual relationship
included a violent component, with plaintiff punching VT.
See Email of Mar. 29, 2013 from VT to Pl.,
Def.'s Ex. 24, at ¶ 0003908 (“My jaw still
feels a little funny from u hitting me but i def needed
that!!”); Prasad Dep. at 66:21-67:9, 168:10-169:3
(testifying that plaintiff “hit him with permission,
” that VT had “on past occasions invited [her] to
hurt him physically in different ways, and in this instance I
was angry with him and asked if I could hit him, and he said
yes, ” XXXXX”).
March 7, 2013, OSRR further amended VT's status to allow
him to reside in University housing for the remainder of the
academic year. Letter of Mar. 7, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at
¶ 0000778. VT moved back on campus shortly thereafter.
See Email of Mar. 31, 2013 from VT to Slifka,
Pl.'s Ex. 26, at ¶ 0000772.
VT Assaulted Plaintiff and the University Imposed a Second No
in early 2013, plaintiff ended her relationship with VT,
see Pl.'s Timeline, Pl.'s Ex. 29, at RFP
000942, and once again, this prompted an angry reaction. On
March 30, 2013, plaintiff agreed to meet VT at a park
adjacent to campus, and there, he “yelled in [her] face
that he had raped her, ” Pl.'s Statement of
Disputed Material Facts [Dkt. # 81] (“Pl.'s
SODF”) ¶ 21, “pinned her to the railing over
the highway, ” and “tackled her down to the
ground” when she tried to leave. Pl.'s SOF ¶
59, quoting GWPD Incident Report of Apr. 1, 2013, Pl.'s
Ex. 7, at ¶ 0000575. She fled, and VT chased her back
onto campus, yelling and grabbing at her as she tried to get
away from him. Id. Emails that they exchanged the
following day show that both were intoxicated at the time:
I didn't know you were drunk until after it happened and
I realized today. Otherwise I never would have seen you. And
it just so happened it was the one day where I had day drank
heavily and accidentally let myself get into that situation.
I hope your therapist helps. I will be doing the no contact
of Mar. 31, 2013 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s Ex. 25, at
AA0003809; see also Id. at AA0003810
(“It's hard for me to remember everything too
because I was drunk and panicking and in shock.”).
April 1, 2013, plaintiff reported the assault to GWPD, and
although she did not identify VT in the report by name, she
“stated that she had filed a previous complaint that
involved [the unknown suspect].” GWPD Incident Report
of Apr. 1, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 7, at ¶ 0000575-78. GWPD
classified the incident as “Simple Assault (Domestic
Violence).” Id. In the report, plaintiff
emphasized: “I am documenting this incident to start a
paper trail, but do not wish to take any further action at
this time.” Id. at AA0000578.
same day, plaintiff told Angela Esquivel, one of her
professors who also worked at GW's Center for Student
Engagement, about the attack. Pl.'s SODF ¶ 22.
Esquivel immediately issued No Contact Orders between
plaintiff and VT, Apr. 1, 2013 No Contact Orders, Pl.'s
Ex. 7, at ¶ 0000571-72, and she emailed other GW
personnel about the assault. Email of Apr. 1, 2013 from
Esquivel to D. Lico, copying A. Goretsky, T. Miller, and
Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 47, at ¶ 0010492- 93. Esquivel
described the incident to her colleagues as “physical
in nature, involving him pinning her up against the E street
bridge and the later tackling her to the ground.”
Id. at AA010493. Esquivel also spoke to VT and told
her colleagues his version of the incident:
He initially denied that a physical altercation had taken
place, but soon after, said that what happened was
“debatable from horseplay.” He also said that
“If something physical happens, I make sure she
doesn't get hurt.” He also stated that “When
she gets crazy, if I have to put her down, it will be on the
bed, not on the floor or the wall.”
Id. Danielle Lico, Associate Dean of Students,
Administrative Services and Senior Advisor for GW, replied:
I'm going to chat with [GW's Deputy Title IX
Coordinator and Assistant Dean of Students] Tara [Pereira]
about [plaintiff] as well and see if she thinks we need to
reach out given that there may be a sexual assault history
here as well. Even though she didn't file a report about
that, she did make the university aware of something that
“may” have happened in the past.
Id. at AA0010492.
same day, plaintiff emailed VT, alerting him that he was
about to be served with a No Contact Order. Emails of Apr. 1,
2013, Def.'s Ex. 38, at ¶ 0003589-92; see
also Prasad Dep. at 82:16-83:18. VT replied: “I do
not want u to have any hearings/ trouble.” Emails of
Apr. 1, 2013, Def.'s Ex. 38, at ¶ 0003590. Plaintiff
assured him there were not going to be any hearings because
she was not pressing charges, but she warned she might
“if anything else happens.” Id. at
was under the impression that the school could not take
action against VT until she formally identified him to GWPD,
even though University personnel knew he was her attacker.
My understanding was that his name had to be formally
attached to the report, so my understanding from Slifka,
which was relayed to me through Ms. Esquivel when I asked
this question was, he knew who it was. He put the pieces
together, but could not proceed to take action unless I
formally documented [VT]'s name.
Prasad Dep. at 85:15-22.
April 12, 2013, plaintiff met with OSRR Director Gabriel
Slifka to discuss the assault, and he informed her that he
could take action against VT even if she had not formally
identified him. Prasad Dep. at 93:16-94:18.
I recall expressing I was upset to hear that because I had
been informed when Angela [Esquivel] called him that that was
not the case, so I felt I had been deceived. He asked me for
input on what actions I thought should be taken. He also
mentioned that typically in response to assault, the sanction
was suspension . . . . [G]iven the nature of my past
relationship with [VT], he was wondering if . . . that would
be an appropriate response I guess.
Id. at 94:16-95:7. In a XXXXX dated that same day, plaintiff wrote that
Slifka “doesn't get to make the decision about
V's suspension, but he gets a say. And he wanted my
opinion. I had no idea that that was what the meeting would
be. I really do appreciate it though.” XXXXX.
did not seek to pursue suspension. She told Slifka in an
email a few days later:
I wanted to write to follow up with the meeting we had on
Friday. I have thought about it a lot and talked it over with
friends and family, and I wanted to let you know that my
basic opinion has not changed. I still think that the best
thing for [VT], me, and the GW community would be to allow
him to graduate, leave DC, and move on with his life. . . .
I know it's a difficult decision. I really do believe
there are other better options than suspension though. Thanks
again for including me in this process.
of Apr. 16, 2013 from Pl. to Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 50, at RFP
001338. During the course of this litigation, plaintiff
testified that she feared retaliation from VT at that time,
and that she had been concerned “that if he was
suspended and returned, this situation could repeat itself,
and [she] was also very confused and still cared for
[VT].” Prasad Dep. at 95:15-19. She also testified that
it would have been reasonable for Slifka to interpret her
email to mean that she did not want VT to be suspended.
Id. at 96:10-16.
point, the OSRR did bring the school's Title IX office
into the conversation. GW's Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Tara Pereira testified that plaintiff met with her at some
point after the assault at the request of OSRR Assistant
Director Lindsay McConnell. Pereira Dep. at 111:4- 112:18.
Pereira did not formally refer plaintiff to specific Title IX
resources at that time “because [plaintiff's]
concerns that she shared with me were not Title IX
concerns.” Id. at 114:02-05; see also
Id. at 117:8-15 (“[T]here was no sexual piece to
anything she shared with me or anything she shared with
Lindsay in front of me.”). According to Pereira,
“[i]t is up to the student to decide which of the
resources provided he or she wants to be given, to engage in,
to have the University help them with.” Id. at
102:17-19. “[T]he door was left open that if
[plaintiff] wanted to meet with me again or avail herself of
any of the additional resources outside of what she and
Lindsay were going to be doing, then she could. . . . It was
up to her to let me know if there was anything she
needed.” Id. at 250:6-14.
time, Suzanne Combs had succeeded Erin Harpine as GWPD's
Coordinator of Victims' Services. Dep. of Suzanne Combs,
Pl.'s Ex. 25 & Def.'s Ex. 32 (“Combs
Dep.”), at 14:10-17:8. Combs testified that Pereira
reported that she was having difficulty getting in contact
with plaintiff, who was “wishy-washy about what she
wanted to do, ” and that Pereira asked her to help.
Id. at 34:17-35:8.
this period when University personnel were meeting with
plaintiff about the March 30 attack and determining how to
proceed, plaintiff and VT continued to communicate and meet
in person. They met at plaintiff's request on April 6,
2013, when she told VT she wanted to talk about “the
events of the past week, ” Prasad Dep. at 90:14-91:6;
Email of Apr. 6, 2013 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s Ex. 39, at
¶ 0003347, and they met again on April 12. See
Pl.'s SODF ¶ 36; see also Emails of Apr.
12, 2013 between VT and plaintiff, Def.'s Ex. 40, at
¶ 0003222-23. The day after plaintiff told Slifka that
it would be better to let VT graduate, she emailed VT to say
she might meet him the next week for dinner, and in a
separate email, she suggested they meet in the library.
Emails of Apr. 17, 2013 from Pl. to VT, Def.'s Ex. 42, at
¶ 0003163. XXXXX.
April 24, 2013, plaintiff acknowledged to Slifka that she had
violated the No Contact Order, and stated that she wanted to
formally identify VT as her assailant.
I wanted to give you an honest update in regards to the
contact between [VT] and I, because I now feel harassed. A
week after the incident in the park, before I met with you, I
violated the no-contact order and asked [VT] to meet with me.
I saw him throughout the following week. For a long time, he
has been basically my entire support system, which makes it
very difficult to stay away from him, even when he is the one
hurting me. However, with the help of UCC and after my
meeting with you, I was able to break it off fully again by
the end of that weekend. . . . I have made it clear to him
through email that I do not want to see or speak to him ever
again. . . . I have also decided at this point to make the
UPD report no longer anonymous.
of Apr. 24, 2013 from Pl. to Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at
¶ 0000765. The email to Slifka included screen shots of
sexually explicit messages VT had recently sent to her.
Id. at AA0000767-68 (“Guess how many girls I
fuked since meeting u” XXXXX
“i just miss u so fuckin much we can't have
sex” “Im drunk. Protected sex?” “Come
have sex with me” “U should let me love u”
“Babe u dnt miss me? Remember how happy i look when we
are having sex”).
April 24, plaintiff also reported that she and her roommate
believed VT had appeared outside the window of her dorm room
in the middle of the night. Email of Apr. 24, 2013 from Pl.
to Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at ¶ 0000764. Slifka
forwarded plaintiff's email to GWPD Captain Michael
Glaubach, Email of Apr. 24, 2013 from Slifka to Glaubach,
Pl.'s Ex. 56, at ¶ 0010471, and told VT to stop
contacting plaintiff in violation of the NCO. Email of Apr.
24, 2013 from Slifka to VT, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at ¶
0000763; OSRR Admin. Action /Additional Correspondence,
Pl.'s Ex. 15, at ¶ 0001186 (reflecting that Slifka
called and spoke with VT on April 24, 2013 and
“explained that he must cease his communication with
Ms. Prasad immediately”).
Plaintiff Identified VT and GW Suspended Him
following day, on April 25, 2013, plaintiff identified VT to
GWPD as her assailant, but she added that she did not want to
notify District of Columbia police or press charges. GWPD
Suppl. Case Report of Apr. 25, 2013, Def.'s Ex. 26, at
¶ 0001162. On April 30, 2013, OSRR Assistant Director
McConnell emailed plaintiff about submitting a formal
statement to OSRR. See Email of Apr. 30, 2013 from
McConnell to Pl., Pl.'s Ex. 57, at ¶ 0009506.
Plaintiff responded on May 2, describing VT's knocking on
her dorm room window the night of April 23. Email of May 2,
2013 from Pl. to McConnell, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at ¶
0000758-61. She also attached messages that VT had sent to
her, id., and provided them to Slifka as well,
telling him that VT was continuing to violate the NCO. Email
of May 3, 2013 from Pl. to Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at
¶ 0000757; see also Email of May 3, 2013 from
Pl. to Slifka forwarding another string of emails from VT to
plaintiff, Pl.'s Ex. 7, at ¶ 0000579-81 (“i
mother fucking hate you ricca fuck u bitch, ”
“fuck u u stupid fucking bitch”). Slifka, who had
separately forwarded plaintiff's report to GWPD, told
plaintiff to contact GWPD to report the violations, and he
said that OSRR would contact VT about them too. Email of May
3, 2013 from Slifka to Pl., Pl.'s Ex. 18, at ¶
to Slifka, plaintiff's formal identification of VT to
GWPD on April 25 initiated the disciplinary process against
VT. Dep. of Gabriel Slifka, Pl.'s Ex. 13 & Def.'s
Ex. 29 (“Slifka Dep.”) at 78:22-79:13. On May 10,
2013, OSRR formally charged him with assault, physical abuse,
non-compliance with reasonable directions of University
officials, and disorderly conduct. Letter of May 10, 2013
from OSRR to VT, Pl.'s Ex. 42, at ¶ 0001154-55.
Slifka notified plaintiff that the University would hold a
disciplinary hearing and directed her to appear at the
hearing as a witness. Letter of May 10, 2013 from OSRR to
Pl., Pl.'s Ex. 42, at ¶ 0001156.
next day, plaintiff asked Angela Esquivel if she would attend
the hearing with her, and Esquivel agreed. Emails of May 11,
2013 between Pl. and Esquivel, Def.'s Ex. 47, at ¶
0013750- 51. The hearing, which OSRR Assistant Director
McConnell described as “very high level and involv[ing]
domestic violence, ” was set for Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Email of May 15, 2013 from McConnell to G. Rheault, Pl.'s
Ex. 67, at ¶ 0010257. But the hearing was set for the day
after plaintiff had planned to leave town, so she informed
school officials that she would not appear in person.
I wanted to let you know that I will be doing the testimony
via phone. They are scheduling it for next week and I'll
be gone anyway. Thanks for offering though and have a great
of May 15, 2013 from Pl. to Esquivel, Def.'s Ex. 47, at
the University was preparing for the disciplinary hearing,
plaintiff and VT resumed communications. The record shows
that on May 12, 2013, VT asked plaintiff to go on a date.
Emails of May 12, 2013 between Pl. and VT, Def.'s Ex. 48,
at ¶ 0002164-66. She responded, “I would never go
on a date with you . . . I would go see the great gatsby with
you. I cannot be alone with you.” Id. at
AA0002165. According to plaintiff, she went to the movie with
VT as a “final goodbye” that would provide
“some sort of closure to [her] so [she] could move on
and not see him again.” Prasad Dep. at 116:11-117:17.
She did not tell Esquivel that she went to the movie with VT.
Id. at 120:19-121:6. The record also indicates that
sometime in mid-May, plaintiff and VT ran into each other in
a hospital emergency room, where VT screamed at her and
grabbed her and tried to forcibly kiss her. See GWPD
Incident Report, Jul. 22, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 10, at ¶
school year came to a close, plaintiff sent an email to
Slifka that described ways in which the process of handling
complaints could be improved in the future and also
I am glad GW has taken the situation between [VT] and me
seriously, listened to my complaints, and included my input
in the decision-making process. . . . Overall, I do feel like
I am leaving this university with the situation having been
addressed, so thank you.
of May 13, 2013 from Pl. to Slifka, Def.'s Ex. 49, at
14, 2013, GWPD Victims' Services Coordinator Combs sent
plaintiff an email with links to various resources and
information about how plaintiff could obtain a court-issued
Temporary Protection Order to keep VT away from her in the
future. Email of May 14, 2013 from Combs to Pl., Pl.'s
Ex. 79, at ¶ 000137; Combs Dep. at 66:5-17. Plaintiff
thanked Combs for the information but did not take steps to
obtain an order at that time. See Email of May 14,
2013 from Pl. to Combs, Pl.'s Ex. 79, at ¶ 000137.
OSRR University Hearing Board held the disciplinary hearing
on May 21, 2013. Def.'s SOF ¶ 45; Pl.'s SOF
¶ 106. Plaintiff participated by telephone, and she
later testified in her deposition that although she was not
physically present, there was nothing she wanted to say at
the hearing that she was prevented from saying. Prasad Dep.
on her statements and on OSRR and GWPD reports, the
disciplinary board found that VT had assaulted and physically
abused plaintiff, he had violated the April 1, 2013 No
Contact Order, and he had harassed and threatened plaintiff,
and that therefore he was in violation of the prohibition
against disorderly conduct. OSRR Univ. Hr'g Board-Level
Disciplinary Conference Adjudication Report of May 21, 2013,
Def.'s Ex. 51, at ¶ 0001145-48. The Board
recommended that the University expel VT. Id. at
than expel him, the University suspended VT on June 4, 2013
effective May 21, 2013 through the summer 2015 semester.
Letter of Jun. 4, 2013, Def.'s Ex. 52, at ¶ 0001149-
50. He would receive credit for his course work for the
spring, but he was barred from all University property
effective June 11, 2013, and he was told that the April 1,
2013 No Contact Order remained in effect. Id.
his suspension, VT began harassing GW personnel. See
Email of Jun. 10, 2013 from J. Jones to Slifka, Pl.'s Ex.
70, at ¶ 0014089 (describing “a VERY disturbing
phone call” from VT in which he conveyed his anger over
the hearing's outcome: “You don't want me to
explode. You are the reason why i'm going to
explode.”); see also OSRR Admin. Action
/Additional Correspondence, Pl.'s Ex. 15, at ¶
0001183 (noting that on June 10, 2013 VT made
“concerning statements” to Jay Jones, Special
Assistant to the Dean in the Division of Student Affairs, and
that Jones filed a report with GWPD regarding the call). On
June 10, 2013, GWPD Captain Glaubach emailed GW officials
regarding VT's conduct and wanting to avoid a potential
“Tarasoff situation.” Email of Jun. 10, 2013
from Glaubach, Pl.'s Ex. 70, at ¶ 0014089.
16, 2013, plaintiff texted VT - as opposed to the school - to
inquire about the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. Text
Messages of Jun. 16, 2013, Def.'s Ex. 20, at RFP 000838.
She then emailed Esquivel, calling the result “a
victory for justice.” Email of Jun. 17, 2013 from Pl.
to Esquivel, Def.'s Ex. 53, at ¶ 0013752.
appealed the decision, and the University denied the appeal
on June 24, 2013. Letter of Jun. 24, 2013 from Slifka to VT,
Pl.'s Ex. 73, at ¶ 0001133; Def.'s SOF ¶
50. Apparently Slifka had been awaiting the outcome of the
appeal to notify plaintiff of the decision; he testified that
he did not tell her the result before then because the appeal
was still pending, see Slifka Dep. at 173:15-176:5,
and according to OSRR notes, he spoke to plaintiff on June
26. OSRR Admin. Action /Additional Correspondence, Entry of
Jun. 26, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 15, at ¶ 0001179. Slifka
told plaintiff about VT's suspension and that the No
Contact Order would remain in place. Prasad Dep. at 144:7-12.
the denial of the appeal, VT's harassment of GW officials
continued. See GWPD Incident Report of Jul. 1, 2013,
Pl.'s Ex. 75, at ¶ 0001527-30 (reporting harassing
emails and false food delivery sent to school personnel);
GWPD Incident Report, Aug. 28, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 26, at
¶ 0000642-43 (reporting threats from VT to ruin
Slifka's “reputation via electronic measures”
and false subscriptions to pornography and other websites);
see also XXXXX.
5, 2013, GWPD Captain Glaubach emailed GW Senior Associate
Dean of Students Mark Levine, questioning efforts to get VT
through to graduation:
i think now is when [we] really want to question the
“let's help him to graduate approach” and
look at the “let's separate him permanently because
our employees should not have to take this kind of abuse
of Jul. 5, 2013 from Glaubach to Levine, Pl.'s Ex. 76, at
¶ 0012632. Levine replied that they should
“regroup . . . and talk options. Us offering to allow
him to take his last two classes elsewhere might be the way
to go, but it doesn't have to be put on the table to him
quickly. He still needs consequences for his behavior.”
Email of Jul. 8, 2013 from Levine to Glaubach, Pl.'s Ex.
76, at ¶ 0012632.
VT's suspension, plaintiff did not see VT again until
2015, Prasad Dep. at 148:5-15; 153:6-155:1, though VT
continued to communicate with her. See Facebook
Messages from Jun. 2, 2014 through April 17, 2014, Def.'s
Ex. 4, at RFP 000059-65; Text Messages from Jun. 6, 2013
through Jul. 20, 2013, Def.'s Ex. 20, at RFP 000837-46.
In July 2013, she reported violations of the NCO to Suzanne
Combs, see Email of Jul. 21, 2013 from Pl. to Combs,
Pl.'s Ex. 79, at ¶ 000138, who reported them to
GWPD. GWPD Incident Report of Jul. 22, 2013, Pl.'s Ex. 8,
at ¶ 0001512-25 (stating that plaintiff had told Combs
she was “fearful of [VT] returning to campus in the
fall” when plaintiff would be back on campus for her
graduate studies). Combs emailed plaintiff in response:
Your report number is #1304987 for what we discussed
yesterday. I spoke with the investigators and they need a
couple of things from you to solidify your evidence (and to
prepare for [Metropolitan Police Department's]
of Jul. 23, 2013 from Combs to Pl., Pl.'s Ex. 79, at
¶ 000138. Combs gave plaintiff specific instructions on
how to transmit to GWPD VT's texts, emails, and
voicemails, and she added:
I know this is a lot to do, but we want to make sure your
case is strong and complete. You have the evidence and a good
chance of getting a protection order through DC, so we want
to make sure all of our evidence meets the standards. We
don't want to give them any reason to deny it. If any of
this is too much, you can give me a call and I can help you
walk through it.
later, plaintiff followed up with Combs with the evidence she
had gathered but redacted portions of the material and
explained her decision not to pursue the protective order.
I blacked out some of the text from the PDF emails because
the information was too personal. I don't know if this is
sufficient for GW's case. But it's all I am willing
to give. I started going through my text history, and I
realized it's just too painful. I don't really care
about the protection order. . . . I feel like it will keep me
safer and healthier to put all of this out of mind as much as
possible instead of going through it all and trying to take
any action. . . . I really appreciate your help though.
of Jul. 29, 2013 from Pl. to Combs, Pl.'s Ex. 79, at
¶ 000139. When the redactions she made to the emails did
not properly mask the text that plaintiff wanted blacked out,
she told Combs “if the detailed emails aren't
enough, I really don't care if GW takes action or
July 2013, the University was also engaged in a discussion
about what to do about VT going forward. On July 24, 2013,
GWPD Police Chief Kevin Hay sent an email to Gabriel Slifka