Students say Dartmouth ignored professors’ sexual harassment in lawsuit that alleges ‘hot tub parties,’ cocaine in class

Posted November 15th, 2018.

As It Appeared On
Daily News


A group of current and former Dartmouth College students filed a $70 million lawsuit against the school Thursday, alleging the Ivy “willfully ignored” more than 10 years of bad behavior from tenured professors, including sexual assault, harassment and rape.

The federal class action lawsuit was filed by six graduates and one undergrad, all of whom were students of the school’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences.

The suit accuses professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen of teaming up to form a “predators club,” and of treating the department like a “21st century Animal House,” a reference to the National Lampoon frat comedy.

The trio – who all left the school this summer amid an investigation – are also accused of hiring female lab assistants based on looks as part of a competition to see who could staff the “hottest lab.”

In the suit, the women claim they were invited to “hot tub parties” late at night at the professors’ personal homes, and that cocaine was offered during classes on addiction.

The complaint – filed by the law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp – alleges that Dartmouth was aware of the allegations for months before the professors were removed from their labs, and that they did nothing to protect students, as one plaintiff claims Whalen raped her almost three weeks after she and her colleagues filed a Title IX complaint in April 2017.

After the women filed the Title IX complaint, the New Hampshire Attorney General opened an investigation in October, though it wrapped in July and allowed Heatherton, Kelley and Whalen to retire and/or resign.

The suit claims Heatherton, who served as the Department Chair from 2004-05, was the founder of the “predatory club,” and had sexual harassment complaints filed against him as early as 2002 that involved multiple instances of groping.

Additionally, a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint was filed against Heatherton and Kelley in 2005. The school failed to take any disciplinary action either time.

“Dartmouth has not responded adequately or appropriately to the evidence and complaints of sexual harassment and the hostile environment in the Psychology and Brain Sciences department. It has failed in its responsibility to protect its female students,” said Nicole Wiitala, an associate at the law firm.

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