Rutgers Cleared on Professor ‘in Love’ With Retarded Man

     (CN) – A man lobbing sexual abuse claims against the Rutgers professor he enlisted to help his severely disabled brother must amend his suit against the university, a federal judge ruled.
     Rutgers says it informed the police and the Essex County prosecutor in 2011 when it learned that its philosophy department chair, Anna Stubblefield, had been having a sexual relationship with a severely disabled man identified in court records only as John Roe.
     The public university, which is New Jersey’s largest and most prestigious, says Stubblefield no longer works for it. She allegedly told the school that she and John Roe were in love and had “consensual” sexual relations, the court noted.
     John’s brother, Richard, and his mother, Jane, meanwhile claim that Stubblefield admitted to them in May 2011 “that she had sexually molested” John.
     They say 32-year-old John suffers from “severe mental retardation and cerebral palsy” and has the mental capacity of “an 18-month-old infant.”
     Richard had been studying for his doctoral degree at Rutgers in spring 2008 when he took Stubblefield’s class and enlisted her help in using “facilitative communications” with John.
     Stubblefield allegedly holds herself out as an expert in the field, which purports to help the communicatively impaired.
     She met with John at his home, the university and the Cerebral Palsy Center of North Jersey, but Richard and Jane said in a February 2013 complaint that the sessions were a farce.
     The family sued Rutgers, Stubblefield and 10 anonymous defendants on John’s behalf in Essex County based on John’s alleged abuse and sexual exploitation.
     Stubblefield claimed that she would help John present his purported research at the 2010 Autism National Committee conference, and she sexually exploited him at a pool party that summer, according to the complaint.
     Rutgers removed the action to federal court in March and later moved to dismiss.
     U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton granted the motion July 9, tossing aside the Roes’ constitutional claims under the Fourth and 14th Amendments, as well as their state tort claims for sexual assault, assault and invasion of privacy.
     “Although Stubblefield was a Rutgers employee, her actions were allegedly intentional and not within the scope of her employment,” the unpublished decision states.
     Because “the university had no role in [Stubblefield’s] engaging in sexual relations with a non-student,” the Roes’ negligence claim against Rutgers also failed, according to the ruling.
     The court also dismissed the interference with parental-child rights claim.
     “According to Rutgers, if John Roe has the mental capacity of ‘an 18-month-old infant,” plaintiffs would have to argue that someone with the mental equivalence of a toddler is capable of being ‘seduced’ and subsequently alienated from his family,” Wigenton wrote. “On the other hand, if John Roe had the mental capacity to be seduced and alienated from his family, ‘th[e]n he was a willful adult participant in the sexual acts.'”
     In nixing the state-law discrimination claim, Wigenton noted the Roes’ contention “that Rutgers permitted Stubblefield ‘to target and exploit plaintiff’ based on his status as a disabled person.”
     “Furthermore, plaintiffs assert that ‘[a]s a result of the discrimination by defendants … John Roe was assaulted, sexually abused, denied the appropriate educational opportunities, forced to attend events and go places without his consent or the informed consent of his plaintiff guardians,'” she added. “These allegations do not amount to anything more than conclusory statements. Even looking at the complaint as a whole, plaintiffs have not pled sufficient facts to establish a viable [Law Against Discrimination] LAD claim.”
     The Roes have 30 days to amend their complaint, the ruling states.

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