Lawsuit over Kansas State’s handling of rapes dismissed

Posted Nov 29, 2019 7:00 PM

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by two women who alleged that Kansas State University refused to investigate complaints that they were raped in off-campus fraternity houses.


Sara Weckhorst and Tessa Farmer permanently dismissed their federal Title IX lawsuits against the university earlier this week after meeting for mediation.


Jonathon Fazzola — a lawyer with Fierberg National Law Group, which represented the women — declined to comment on the mediation, and K-State only said that no compensation was provided to either plaintiff.


“Ms. Farmer and Ms. Weckhorst are proud of the legal precedent they’ve established through their lawsuits, including in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit,” Fazzola said, reading a statement. “It has been a long journey, and both young women are excited to focus on their careers and families.”


During the litigation, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education weighed in, saying in a brief that the university's policy to not investigate complaints of student-on-student rape when the attacks occur off-campus is wrong.

The Associated Press doesn't generally name sexual assault victims, but another attorney for the women said previously that they have come forward because they want to hold the university accountable and to help prevent other women from being raped.


In their 2016 federal lawsuit, Weckhorst and Farmer argued that K-State refused to investigate Weckhorst’s 2014 report that she was raped by Jared Gihring at Gihring’s fraternity house, Sigma Nu, and that the university’s “deliberate indifference” lack of action led to further rapes committed by Gihring. Crystal Stroup, another former K-State student, claimed that Gihring also raped her in an apartment in October 2015.


In 2017, Gihring was convicted and sentenced to almost 13 years in prison in the rape of Weckhorst but was found not guilty of raping Stroup. He was expelled from the university before the fall 2016 semester.


Farmer, meanwhile, alleged that she was raped in March 2015, after a party at a fraternity house where she had become "very intoxicated."

Kansas State claimed Tuesday’s dismissal as a victory and affirmation of the university’s “long-stated position that it responded appropriately and in compliance with Title IX when Weckhorst and Farmer each reported they were sexually assaulted off campus.”

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