PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Oregon State University's response to rape was "shameful, woefully inadequate and a dark stain on the history of the institution," but a student's Title IX claims miss the mark, a federal judge ruled, in dismissing her case.
"Justice and accountability took a back seat to the outdated notion that 'boys will be boys' and the truth took a back seat to the desire to attract donors and talented athletes," U.S. District Judge Michael McShane wrote in his Feb. 22 ruling. "But equally clear is that these defendants are not liable under the tenuous Title IX, equal protection, or due process theories put forth here." McShane dismissed Kristen Samuelson's complaint with prejudice.
When Samuelson sued the school and its head football coach Mike Riley, she claimed she had been the second OSU student raped under similar circumstances.
Oregon State University student Brenda Tracy told The Oregonian in 2014 that she had been drugged and gang-raped at an off-campus party in 1998 by two Oregon State football players and two others. Tracy is not a party to Samuelson's lawsuit.
Tracy said she reported the rape to Oregon State counselors just after it happened. But the school barely lifted a finger to help her and did not take steps to protect other students from suffering the same fate, McShane found.
Former head football coach Riley allegedly suspended the two athlete-rapists for a single game and made them do 25 hours of community service.
One year later, plaintiff Kristen Samuelson says, she was raped in the same apartment as Tracy, by an assailant who used the same method - drugging her so that she woke up during the attack, but was paralyzed from stopping it.
Samuelson says she discovered that her assailant was the cousin of Calvin Carlyle, one of the Oregon State football players who allegedly raped Tracy.
Carlyle denied Tracy's accusations to the New York Daily News after The Oregonian story made national headlines in 2014.
Samuelson also saw The Oregonian article. She sued the university, saying the story showed her that OSU knew it had a problem a year before she was raped but did nothing to fix it.
Samuelson said Title IX required OSU to protect her from a situation it knew was dangerous. The 1972 federal law requires equal opportunities for males and females at institutions that receive public money.
Samuelson claimed Oregon State knew from the police report that Tracy gave OSU's sexual assault counselor that "Carlyle associated with sexually violent males" and that OSU football coaches suppressed reports of sexual abuse at the hands of its players.
"OSU had actual knowledge of the hostile culture toward women permitted by OSU's football program and history of sexual assaults and harassment towards women by OSU's football players," Samuelson said in her lawsuit. "OSU also had actual knowledge of the substantial risk that Carlyle would associate with other sexually violent males who would sexually harass OSU's female students at his apartment based upon prior conduct by Carlyle and his associates."
Samuelson said the school protected the image of its football program rather than the safety of its female students - and that it all came down to money.