A Northeastern University student has filed a lawsuit against the school over an alleged rape she said occurred while she was a freshman.
Morgan Helfman, 21, believes the school acted with negligence by not properly monitoring and supervising the school, as well as by the manner in which they conducted their disciplinary proceedings.
"I want the school to be held responsible," Helfman said Thursday.
In her fourth year at the school, Helfman said she feels frustrated with the lack of consideration and concern the university has given to her case.
On October 31, 2013, Helfman had been drinking at a party held by a resident assistant at Northeastern. After consuming alcohol, she became sick and was sent home with a male friend who attended the party with her that night. She alleged he took her back to their dorm, but brought her into his room, where he then raped her throughout the night.
"The expectation is that when you drink you'll get hungover the next day, maybe wake up with a groggy head," Helfman said, "You don't expect to be sexually assaulted. And if that does happen, the school will take care of it."
But according to Helfman, instead the school dismissed her claim. After she filed a complaint, a student-run disciplinary committee reviewed the allegations and determined that Helfman's accused attacker did not violate any school policy.
"You're basically asking them to make a quasi legal determinations, and these are college students who have no experience in that sort of thing," said Helfman's attorney, Mark Itzkowitz.
The lawsuit contends the school's handling of the incident was an "institutional failure," as resident assistants, charged with caring for the students, were knowingly allowing minors to consume alcohol.
When the allegations were initially made by Helfman in 2013, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office investigated, but later declined to press any charges.
"You have to ask them why," said Itzkowitz.
When NECN contacted the district attorney's office for an explanation, they stated that in cases of sexual assault they need a victim's permission to release that information. Helfman declined to give such permission, Thursday.
In a statement to NECN, Northeastern University sent the following statement:
"The university, including our Office of General Counsel, has not been served with this complaint. We cannot comment on something we have not seen. The safety and well-being of our students, in an environment that fosters mutual respect, is the university’s top priority."