In a lawsuit filed against William Paterson University in New Jersey, Marquesa Jackson-Locklear alleged that her 21-year-old daughter Cherelle Jovanna Locklear killed herself after the university failed to properly investigate her rape.
According to CBS News, the lawsuit says Locklear hanged herself in November 2015 following a previous attempt in September. According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 8, Locklear said she was raped at a Sigma Pi fraternity house in September 2015, and that following her initial suicide attempt that month, Locklear reported the sexual assault to the school’s victim services coordinator, Theresa Bivaletz.
The lawsuit states that Bivaletz, whom Locklear had directed to report the rape to the university police department, did not do so until the following month, at which point the campus police also allegedly failed to adequately address her claims; the alleged perpetrator, according to the suit, was not “confronted nor charged.” The plaintiff claims the school violated Title IX in creating “a climate in which such misconduct against women was tolerated”; according to the lawsuit, the school has failed to properly address other instances of sexual assault, as well.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, university spokeswoman Mary Beth Zeman responded to reports:
“We are, of course, saddened by the loss of a student under any circumstances, and particularly when the loss comes about by suicide. We are aware of the lawsuit filed by the student’s mother and are unable to comment on any such legal matters. The university will continue to focus on the safety and well-being of all of its members and offers a variety of counseling resources for students who seek help with personal challenges.”
Recently, William Paterson University was sued by several male students who were accused of gang-raping a fellow freshman student in November 2014. A grand jury declined to indict the five students, and four of them sued the school for Title IX violations, claiming the school denied them due process due to their gender. (They claimed the school failed to interview other students or conduct a rape kit examination; they also claimed that the school failed to take into account that the accuser was “very sexually active.”)
A press conference on behalf of the plaintiff is being held today at 10:00 a.m. at the Law Offices of Nagel Rice, LLP in Roseland, New Jersey.