The elite Rhode Island School of Design has been ordered to pay $2.5 million to a former study abroad student who was raped on her first night in Ireland after a federal court in Providence, Rhode Island determined the school should have provided a lock on her bedroom door.
The woman, referred to as Jane Doe in court documents, was assigned a single room next to her perpetrator referred to as John Doe in a four-bedroom holiday house rented by the Burren College of Art when she arrived at the program on June 18, 2016. The house only had a lock on the exterior door, not on interior bedrooms. Students were told where the key to the outside door would be hidden, but at no time offered individual locks on their bedroom doors, according to the complaint.
The victim was part of a group of students who went out for drinks to celebrate the birthday of John Doe on their first night at the program. “Before midnight, Ms. Doe and John left together and John escorted Ms. Doe back to her room. Prior to leaving her room, John asked Ms. Doe if she would kiss him. Ms. Doe said she would kiss him on the cheek. John left and Ms. Doe closed the door to her room and got into bed, wearing all her clothing,” according to the court filing. Then, after sending several text messages to her friends at home, Jane Doe fell asleep only to wake to the smell of vomit and alcohol coming from a man on top of her. “Ms. Doe was unable to lock her bedroom, so the room remained unlocked while she slept. Later in the night, Ms. Doe awoke to the feeling of someone on top of her. Feeling paralyzed, she realized it was John and that she no longer had clothes on. John raped Ms. Doe, orally and by vaginal penetration.”