Federal judge denies UNA's motion to dismiss entire Jane Doe case

The judge also denied Jane Doe's motions against UNA staff members.

Posted: Mar 28, 2019 5:10 PM
Updated: Mar 28, 2019 6:46 PM

A civil case involving a University of North Alabama student who says her professor drugged and raped her will likely go to trial. That comes after several key decisions made by a federal judge.

The "Jane Doe v. University of North Alabama" case has had no movement in the last year until now. A federal judge ruled UNA's motion to dismiss the case entirely is denied, and it will likely go before a jury. The judge did dismiss Jane Doe's individual claims against staffers, ranging from the UNA president, to the Title IX coordinator, and other university staff.

In her lawsuit filed in December of 2017, the UNA student called "Jane Doe" claims she was groped, drugged and raped by a professor, David Dickerson, while on a university trip in Florida. Jane Doe's lawsuit says the university and staff never did anything to protect her after the incident and even told her to leave campus, while keeping Dickerson employed for months.

Jane Doe's lawsuit also claims Dickerson had a previous rape charge in Maryland against his then 19-year-old wife. Those charges were dropped, but the lawsuit says the university did not do its due diligence in a proper background check on Dickerson. The university said nothing showed up on his criminal record, and it did everything it could to protect Jane Doe.

This 29-page opinion by a federal judge covers decisions on a few motions. Among them, he granted Jane Doe's motion for discovery, which means her attorneys will be able to look at UNA's evidence in the case. He denied Jane Doe's claims against individual university staff members. He said her claims are only viable against the entity itself, not individuals. UNA said in a response, "We are pleased that the court dismissed a number of claims against university administrators."

UNA officials also said they look forward to showing how they complied with Title IX in this case.

Jane Doe's attorney's released this statement regarding the judge's opinion, "Our client is pleased with the recent District Court's opinion denying the University's attempt to silence Jane Doe and dismiss her lawsuit. The Court's ruling allows us to proceed with full and thorough discovery of all named defendants in an effort to uncover the facts surrounding the University's violations and poor decision making. Jane Doe is committed to aggressively pursuing justice for herself and setting an example for other similarly situated women. She remains eager to hold the responsible parties accountable and to have her day in court."

Court documents show Dickerson is asking for $7 million, because he feels he was wrongfully terminated by the university. Dickerson has never been charged criminally in this case.

The judge has ordered UNA to respond with an update on Dickerson's legal proceedings by April 5.

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