Two of the students at William Paterson University (WPU) who were charged with gang rape last fall have filed notices expressing their intentions to sue the university, its president, the director of public safety and others who were involved in the incident.
Noah Williams and Garrett Collick, along with Noah’s mother Nancy Williams, will be suing the school for failing to grant Williams, Collick and the other three accused students their rights to due process or to a thorough and proper investigation.
The university is charged with lacking experience and training for handling sexual assault incidents, and the notices say that the authorities at WPU should have worked with the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure the case was handled properly.
The lawsuits also allege that WPU and administrators issued arrest warrants for the suspects without probable cause and performed unlawful search and seizures that resulted in the suspects’ arrests and incarcerations. The university also made public statements about the investigation. University President Kathleen Waldron was reported as saying that she was “angry and dismayed that this crime was committed on our campus and allegedly by students.”
Williams and Collick are suing for emotional injuries, damaged reputations and their economic losses and have yet to assign a dollar amount to the damages assessed. Nancy Williams’ notice lists the emotional harm she suffered from the injustices done to her son. The notices also list the potential claims for Williams and Collick as libel, slander, invasion of privacy, negligence, breach of contract, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and others.
What Happened Last Fall?
Collick, Williams and three other freshmen at WPU—Jamel Latimer, Termaine Scott, and Darius Singleton—were accused of holding a female student in “involuntary servitude,” according to the ensuing warrants, two days before Thanksgiving last year. Most of the students at the University had left campus for the holiday and the alleged victim claimed the five boys shut her in a room, turned off the lights and physically assaulted her and coerced her to perform sexual acts with them.
Following the incident, a university police sergeant filed a criminal complaint against the students, which led to their arrests. They were charged with several offenses, including first-degree kidnapping and first-degree crimes of aggravated sexual assault. If convicted, the students would have faced maximum combined sentences of 50 years in prison for each charge and parole supervision for life. They would also have had to register under Megan’s Law as sex offenders.
At the trial last January, the grand jury declined to indict the five students. However, the students have still suffered adverse effects from the ordeal. Both Collick and Williams spent nine to ten days in the Passaic County jail. They are also banned from campus and have been unable to complete their first year of college. The tort notices make reference to the lost time and the ongoing consequences that have resulted from the school’s handling of the investigation.
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, we represent anyone who has been the victim of slander or lies that have tarnished reputations. To discuss your case, and the potential damages you may be entitled to, contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney at HCK today.