Lenoir-Rhyne accused of not alerting police of alleged sex assault

HICKORY, N.C. — A former student has filed a federal lawsuit against Lenoir-Rhyne University.

The lawsuit accuses the school of not alerting police about a sexual assault on campus or warning students about previous allegations against the suspect.

The former student said she was celebrating her birthday at Morgan Hall, a co-ed dorm, when she was raped by another student.

The lawsuit said the suspect, a three-scholarship student-athlete, had been accused of sexually assaulting other students, but Lenoir-Rhyne University officials “took no measure to remove him from student housing nor warn students who lived with him."

The university did question the victim and other witnesses and did a room search the night of the alleged assault but never alerted police, according to the lawsuit.

Channel 9 learned the alleged sexual assault wasn’t reported to police until four days later because they received a call from the hospital where the student had gone for treatment.

Police said the student-athlete was never charged for the rape or any previous sexual assaults.

Students said they do feel safe at the school.

“Campus security is really good about answering phone calls,” Anita Brown said. “We all have their number so you call them, they’re gonna be there, and help you.”

Lenoir-Rhyne released a statement on the lawsuit:

“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is of the utmost importance to Lenoir-Rhyne University. The University has absolutely no tolerance for sexual misconduct of any kind. Lenoir-Rhyne has comprehensive policies that strictly prohibit sexual misconduct, detailed procedures for investigating and adjudicating any alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and well-developed programs of education for its faculty, staff, and students regarding sexual misconduct awareness and prevention. Lenoir-Rhyne does not and will not provide statements regarding confidential matters involving students, faculty, or staff. In addition, the University does not make statements regarding pending or active litigation."

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