Seven women filed a $70 million lawsuit against Dartmouth College on Thursday, claiming the Ivy League school turned a blind eye to its “21st Century Animal House” culture and didn’t do enough protect them from sexually predatory professors.
The plaintiffs also include any other “Jane Doe” victims who were “treated as sex objects” by three now-former professors at Dartmouth’s elite Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, according to the civil lawsuit filed in Concord, New Hampshire, federal court.
“Dartmouth College has knowingly permitted three of its prominent (and well-funded) professors to turn a human behavior research department into a 21st Century Animal House,” according to the lawsuit.
“For well over a decade, female students in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences have treated as sex objects by tenured professors.”
Professors were part of a “alcohol-saturated party culture” by conducting “professional lab meetings at bars, invited students to late night ‘hot tub parties’ in their personal homes and invited undergraduate students to use a real cocaine during classes related to addition as part of a `demonstration,'” according to the lawsuit.
Dartmouth trustees are named as defendants, but not the three professors accused of “Animal House” behavior. All three of the professors — Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen — have left the school since allegations first surfaced last year.
While the lawsuit cites alleged bad behavior going back to 2002, the most of the acts connected to the seven plaintiffs happened between 2015 and 2017.
Kelley and Whalen could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Heatherton, through his lawyer, admitted to at least one instance of drunken behavior and improper touching that were “accidental” and a “poor attempt at humor.”
“Professor Heatherton categorically denies playing any role in creating a toxic environment at Dartmouth College,” according to his lawyer’s statement.
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SOURCE: NBC News, David K. Li