Family sues college after daughter's suicide

July 11, 2008 3:33:38 PM PDT
Eyewitness News has obtained the lawsuit filed against Dominican College, a number of College employees, and the three alleged rapists by the mother of Megan Wright. By all accounts, Megan Wright was a happy 19-year-old college freshman at Dominican College who loved to play volleyball and sing. But, in December 2006, she killed herself. Her family says her death was brought on by a rape on campus and the lack of help she got after the attack.

Her family has hired high profile attorney Gloria Allred. They are suing the college for not investigating Wright's claim of rape and directing her to a detective with the Orangetown police, who was also on the school's payroll as an instructor. The detective closed the case without filing any charges.

The college has denied the numerous allegations.

"We are fully prepared to litigate this in court," the school's attorney Philip Semprevivo Jr. said in a written statement.

Wright was allegedly raped after leaving a party in a residence hall in May 2006. The lawsuit claims students were openly consuming alcoholic beverages in violation of school policy. After the leaving the party, two young men steered her from her room and brought her to another room where the three men named in the lawsuit took turns raping her. The lawsuit says other young men were watching and high fiving each other at various times during the assault.

The lawsuit also says: "While Megan Wright was still in the room, one of the assailants exited the room and held up a white sign, which purportedly contained Megan Wright's signature, to the surveillance cameras so that the camera could pick up the works printed on the sign above the signature: I WANT TO HAVE SEX."

According to the lawsuit, the next morning, Wright woke up believing something was wrong. She had a vague recollection of the events of the previous evening. She noticed that she was wearing different clothes and was sore and bleeding in the vaginal area. Wright went to White Plains Hospital where an examination confirmed that "substantial injuries, including bruising and lacerations, indicated forcible rape. The nurse on duty that day, in fifteen years of practice, has rarely seen a victim evincing more physical trauma than Megan Wright."

The lawsuit says Dominican College never conducted its own investigation. It directed Megan to pursue the investigation with a detective in the Orangetown police department who, unbeknownst to Megan at the time, was employed by Dominican College as an instructor.

The detective took a writing sample from Megan by asking her to write the words: I WANT TO HAVE SEX. In his police report, the detective indicated that his refusal to investigate the assault was due, at least in part, to the fact that he believed that Megan's handwriting matched the writing on that sign.

A detective from the District Attorney's office also met with Megan. According to the lawsuit, shortly after that meeting, the detective told Megan and her mother that the case was difficult to prosecute because the physical trauma did not make her unrecognizable and there were no eye witnesses to Megan's attack. She further advised that, although detective believed in her, the alleged assailants had retained attorneys who would not permit them to be interviewed by the DA's office.

The Orangetown town attorney, John Edwards, told Eyewitness News, "The matter was investigated at the time by the Orangetown Police Department and the District Attorney's office. The investigation was conducted in an appropriate manner. The town is satisfied with the investigation. The investigation was handled entirely appropriately."

Edwards added that officer cited in the lawsuit was not the only person involved in the investigation.

"It is neither accurate nor fair to say the detective did not act properly. The allegation that the town police didn't act promptly or thoroughly, we dispute that fact. What happened and who was involved was all part of the investigation. We have confidence in the police department, the particular police officer and all officers involved in the investigation. The district attorney's office was involved and continues to be involved," he said. "It was undoubtedly a tragic occurrence. Our hearts go out to the family."

A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said, "Our office takes this type of allegation very seriously and we'll be reviewing the materials submitted today."

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bob Monek


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