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Sexual assault related incidents at Duke in recent years

Following the recent lawsuit filed against Duke by a former student alleging that the University mishandled her sexual misconduct complaint, The Chronicle compiled a list of the noteworthy sexual assault cases and allegations involving Duke from the past several years. 

2013: McLeod expelled for sexual assault, later sues Duke

Lewis McLeod, who entered Duke with the Class of 2014, was accused of sexually assaulting a female freshman student in November 2013. After a hearing by the Office of Student Conduct in 2014, McLeod was found responsible for sexual misconduct and became the first and only known Duke student to be expelled for sexual assault.

According to the civil suit filed by McLeod against the University, he and the female freshman student met at Shooters II Saloon and left in a cab together, which dropped both students off at McLeod’s off-campus residence, where the two engaged in sexual intercourse. McLeod claims this was consensual, while the female student alleges it was not consensual, and that she made it clear she did not wish to continue.

The female student reported the alleged rape to both the University and the Durham Police Department the following day, according to the complaint. However, the DPD investigation into the matter was soon closed without charging McLeod because of the female student’s “lack of cooperation.” The case then went through Duke’s disciplinary process, and an undergraduate conduct board found Lewis McLeod responsible for sexual misconduct.

McLeod appealed the decision, but a student conduct appellate board upheld the sanction of expulsion in April 2014.

In May 2014, he filed a preliminary injunction against the University, arguing that his expulsion came after an unfair investigation and hearing. Much of McLeod's complaint centered on Celia Irvine, the psychologist that Duke hired to independently investigate McLeod's case for the student conduct hearing. The suit claimed that Irvine was not properly licensed to be conducting such investigations in the state. McLeod is now suing the University for his diploma and damages.

His trial in the Durham County Superior Court—which was originally set to begin in February 2015 then rescheduled for Feb. 1, 2016—has been postponed again, with a new court date not yet set.

2015: Alpha Delta Phi fraternity investigated for sexual assault

From January to July 2015, the Durham Police Department investigated a female freshman's claim that she was drugged and raped the evening of Jan. 8 after a party at ADPhi's house on West Chapel Hill Street. The student alleged that she woke up the morning of Jan. 9 with little memory of the night before, and that she was in a t-shirt she did not recognize without the bra or underwear she had been wearing the previous night.

The same day, the student went to the Duke University Medical Center for a rape kit because she suspected that she may have been the victim of non-consensual sex.

Search warrants showed that police obtained the phone records and DNA samples of six male students—three freshmen and three seniors—who were, at the time, affiliated with ADPhi. The phone records indicated that the female student left the Jan. 8 party with a senior in the fraternity around 3:30 a.m. After being taken to his apartment, she was returned to her dorm room approximately an hour later.

On July 2, 2015, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols announced that after "an extensive and thorough investigation," his office had determined it would not seek an indictment charging any subject of the investigation with a criminal offense.

2015: Rasheed Sulaimon dismissed from basketball program, sexual assault allegations surface

On Jan. 29, 2015, men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that then-junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed from the Duke, marking the first time Krzyzewski had ever dismissed a player from his team. Sulaimon's dismissal was clouded by allegations of sexual assault.

Separate allegations against Sulaimon came from two female students in the 2013-14 academic year. Both students voiced allegations publicly, but neither filed a complaint through the Office of Student Conduct or took legal action through the Durham Police Department.

In October 2013, a female student said in a large group session at Common Ground—a student-led diversity retreat—that Sulaimon had sexually assaulted her, three retreat participants said. At the following semester's Common Ground retreat beginning in February 2014, a second female student said she had been sexually assaulted by Sulaimon, according to four retreat participants.

A former affiliate of the Duke basketball program, who was with the team throughout the majority of Sulaimon's basketball career, became aware of the allegations made at the Fall 2013 Common Ground.

The allegations were brought to the attention of a team psychologist in March 2014, the anonymous affiliate said. That month, the allegations were brought to Krzyzewski and assistant coaches Jon Scheyer and Nate James and associate head coach Jeff Capel.

“Nothing happened after months and months of talking about [the sexual assault allegations]," the anonymous affiliate said. "The University administration knew. Kevin White knew, Mike Cragg knew."

Sulaimon completed his degree at Duke during the summer of 2015, graduating in three years.

2015: Duke faces federal Title IX investigation

The University was notified in November 2015 that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had initiated the investigation of a “Title IX complaint filed by a Duke student,” according to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. Title IX legislation prohibits gender discrimination in federally funded education programs—giving colleges and universities an independent obligation to deal with sexual misconduct in a timely fashion, regardless of whether a police investigation occurs.

“The University will cooperate fully with the investigation, which will review the handling of sexual misconduct and harassment complaints involving students, faculty and staff,” Schoenfeld wrote in an email.

The OCR only releases the names of students who file complaints at the end of its investigations.

2016: Duke sued for mishandling sexual assault investigation

A former Duke student filed a Title IX lawsuit against the University Aug. 1, alleging the school mishandled her sexual misconduct complaint from several years ago.

The female student alleged that she was subject to “a drug-facilitated rape” by two other students, one of whom is the stepson of then-Provost Peter Lange, when all three were undergraduates at Duke. According to the suit, she reported the assault to University officials and the Duke Police Department, and other students also allegedly made reports around the same time to the University that both men engaged in sexual misconduct with other “similarly isolated and incapacitated women.”

After the only sanction taken by the University was putting Lange's stepson, one of the accused students, on probation July 12, 2013, the plaintiff complained to the Office of Institutional Equity, according to the suit. The OIE later issued a decision which concluded that the University's response was "sufficient to remedy the hostile educational environment that Plaintiff suffered as a result" and "sufficient to meet its obligations under Title IX," the suit read.

According to the suit, the Office of Student Conduct also hired Celia Irvine, the same psychologist hired to investigate McLeod's case, to investigate the multiple claims of sexual misconduct. Her report, the complaint alleges, concealed evidence of drug-facilitated sexual assault.


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