Lawsuit: 3 Dartmouth Professors Routinely Sexually Assaulted Students

November 18, 2018

Seven women brought a sexual assault lawsuit against Dartmouth for allowing three male psychology professors to foster an environment where female students’ academic success was made contingent on partying and obeying sexual requests by their professors, according to reporting by the New York Times. The suit is brought on behalf of a class of current and former undergraduate students in Dartmouth’s psychological department, and accuses Professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen of groping, sexting, and raping their female students.

Some of the specific allegations against each professor are detailed below:

student crying after filing dartmouth sexual assault lawsuit

Sexual Assault Lawsuit’s Allegations against Prof. Heatherton

After a psychology conference in March 2017, the lawsuit says that Professor Heatherton went out to a karaoke event with grad students and colleagues. During the event, he pulled one of his graduate students, Sasha Brietzke, into his lap and asked what she was doing later that night, according to the lawsuit. Brietzke was shaken and “terrified” after the incident.

Professor Heatherton’s research focused on self-regulation and self control, including what factors cause people to make bad decisions and what overrides people’s rational decisionmaking.


Sexual Assault Lawsuit: Allegations against Professor Kelley

The New York Times reports that Kristina Rapuano, one of the seven women, said in an interview that:

Professor Kelley began harassing her by enlisting her as his drinking buddy, and making his academic support conditional on her cooperation.

Rapuano said that after a neuroscience conference in San Francisco in 2015, Professor Kelley cajoled her to go out drinking with him. The next morning, she says, she woke up in a daze and didn’t remember anything from the night before. Professor Kelley then informed her that they’d had sex, she said. This situation is commonly seen in date rape cases.

Afterwards, according to Rapuano, Prof. Kelley began pushing her for more sex and threatened professional retribution when she said no to him.

Rapuano said she felt compelled to come forward with her allegations against Prof. Kelley when she heard that two years later, Prof. Heatherton had tried to have sex with student Sasha Brietzke at a social event after a conference. Rapuano says:

Someone in the lab that I almost viewed as my academic sister was now also getting hurt … I felt almost protective about wanting to end this pattern that was extending across generations. I realized it was going to continue.

The complaint also alleges that Prof. Kelley hosted booze-fueled hot tub parties and games of adult-themed charades for his students. The suit also says that Kelley texted a female student with instructions to masturbate while looking at photos of him.


Sexual Assault Allegations against Prof. Whalen

In the sexual assault lawsuit’s complaint, Vassiki Chauhan says that Professor Whalen forced her to have nonconsensual sex and refused to wear a condom, reports Slate. Afterwards, he mocked her for seeking medical testing (for STDs or pregnancy), and said she was “paranoid,” according to Slate. When the results came back negative, Prof. Whalen told Chauhan to meet him at a bar and “celebrate” the negative result, reports Slate.


Professors Retire or Resign after Sexual Assault Allegations

The above sexual assault allegations are only a portion of the incidents detailed in the lawsuit. The NYT reports that Professor Heatherton took an early retirement and Professors Kelley and Whalen resigned after sexual assault allegations were made.

To report a sexual assault, contact us.