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Prasad v. The George Washington University

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 17, 2019

RICCA PRASAD, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The 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”).[1] 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.[2] 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.

         The 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 contract theory.

         With 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.

         With 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.

         As for 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 contributing factors.

         Finally, 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 behavior.

         As the 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.

         More 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.

         The 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.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In the 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[3] 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).

         I. Plaintiff Met VT During Her Freshman Year

         In 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.

         In his 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.

         II. The University Imposed the First No Contact Order

         On 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.[4]GWPD advised her to change her email address[5] 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.

         On 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 another counselor).

         On 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.[6]

         Notwithstanding 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.[7] 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).

         In the 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[8] XXXXX.

         While 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).

         On 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.

         III. The University Lifted the First No Contact Order at Plaintiff's Request

         On 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.

         In 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.

         The 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”).

         On 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.

         IV. VT Assaulted Plaintiff and the University Imposed a Second No Contact Order

         Sometime 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 order though.

         Email 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.”).

         On 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.

         That 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.

         That 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 AA0003589-90.

         Plaintiff 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.

         On 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Email 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.

         At that 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.

         By this 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.

         During 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.

         On 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.

         Email 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”).

         On 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”).

         V. Plaintiff Identified VT and GW Suspended Him

         The 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 ¶ 0009342.

         According 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.

         The 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.[9] 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 summer!!!

         Email of May 15, 2013 from Pl. to Esquivel, Def.'s Ex. 47, at ¶ 0013750.

         While 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 ¶ 0000518; XXXXX.

         As the 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[10] and also thanked him:

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.

         Email of May 13, 2013 from Pl. to Slifka, Def.'s Ex. 49, at ¶ 0009306-07.

         On May 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.

         The 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. at 134:17-135:9.

         Relying 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 ¶ 0001147.

         Rather 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.

         After 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.”[11] Email of Jun. 10, 2013 from Glaubach, Pl.'s Ex. 70, at ¶ 0014089.

         On June 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.

         VT 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.

         Following 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.

         On July 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 approach.

         Email 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.

         After 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).[12] 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] involvement).

         Email 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.

Id.

         A week 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. Thanks.

         Email 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 not.” Id.

         During 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 and ...


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