Suicide Followed NJ Campus Rape, Mom Says

     NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Lashing out over her daughter’s on-campus suicide, a mother accuses William Paterson University in a federal complaint of fumbling the student’s report of having been raped.
     Cherelle Jovanna Locklear used a necktie to hang herself in the bathroom at Pioneer Hall dormitory on Nov. 22, 2015, the 21-year-old’s mother says.
     Filing suit on Sept. 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Marquesa Jackson-Locklear says William Paterson University is squarely to blame for her daughter’s death.
     The school learned Cherelle had been raped when she tried to kill herself on Oct. 15, 2015, by overdosing on pills, according to the complaint.
     Jackson-Locklear says her daughter spoke with campus victim services when she got out of the hospital — reporting that she had been raped the month before, on Sept. 25, at the school’s Sigma Pi fraternity house
     The complaint accuses William Paterson University’s employee of waiting until November to report Cherelle’s rape to campus police.
     Jackson-Locklear says the failure to properly investigate Cherelle’s assault has allowed the perpetrator to go unidentified — though Cherelle had named him in her initial report.
     The mother has submitted 11 requests for the school’s records on her daughter, according to the complaint, but William Paterson University has redacted the name of the frat boy Cherelle says raped her.
     Alleging negligence and violations of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, Jackson-Locklear seeks punitive damages.
     She is represented by Peter Till of Springfield, New Jersey.
     Neither Till nor university spokeswoman Marybeth Zeman returned requests for comment.
     Jackson-Locklear describes her daughter in the complaint as a bright, promising, loving, and popular young black woman who enrolled at William Paterson University in 2012.
     A brief obituary describes Cherelle as a lifelong Jackson resident who graduated from Jackson Liberty High School in 2012. As a student at William Paterson University, she was a member of Delta Epsilon Sorority. She was also a member of Hope Cathedral in Jackson.

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