Many students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute were stunned Tuesday to learn from an article in The Boston Globe that lawyers defending the university in a suit have been asking questions of a rape victim that appear to blame her for her rape. The student was raped by a security guard at a building where she and other WPI students lived in Puerto Rico while on a research program. The suit questions whether WPI took appropriate steps to be sure that security guards were in fact reliable and not dangerous. Lawyers have asked the student questions about drinking and other matters that suggest blaming her for the rape.
Late Tuesday, Laurie Leshin, WPI's president, sent an email to the campus (posted here on the university's Facebook page) that said that the university's former insurance company was responsible for the line of questioning.
"A lawsuit has recently been filed alleging that the university was 'grossly negligent' in failing to protect the victim from the criminal act of another. You may have seen headlines that imply WPI is blaming the victim for this rape, an idea in direct conflict with our values and our response to this situation," Leshin wrote. "When a lawsuit is filed, the university’s insurance carrier at the time of the incident takes responsibility for the case. Although we parted ways with that provider several years ago, they are litigating this case. Their legal approach and language have not been vetted or approved by the university. WPI has never and would never blame a victim for being raped. WPI strongly believes that the person responsible for this rape is the rapist. And he is in prison."
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