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Judge sides with UMW in rape lawsuit
A Fredericksburg Circuit Court judge today said the University of Mary Washington did not have a legal duty to protect a student who was raped on campus in 2008.

RELATED:

Read the lawsuit (PDF)

Read the state's response (PDF)


Date published: 3/28/2011

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

A Fredericksburg Circuit Court judge today said the University of Mary Washington did not have a legal duty to protect a student who was raped on campus in 2008.

Judge Gordon Willis sided with the state Attorney General’s Office, which is defending UMW against a $10 million lawsuit filed on behalf of the rape victim.

Willis called it a “tragic case.”

“It shouldn’t happen to anyone, at any time, at any place,” the judge said.

The case isn’t over despite today’s outcome.

Attorney Lewis Lowery, who is representing the rape victim, has until April 11 to note his objections to the court’s ruling. He has 21 days to file an amended complaint.

The suit accuses UMW of negligence and claims the attacker’s actions were “reasonably foreseeable” by university officials. It names the Commonwealth of Virginia as the defendant because UMW is a state agency.

The rape victim—who has since left the Fredericksburg university—was walking from her car on the third floor of UMW’s parking deck off U.S. 1 when she was violently assaulted at about 2 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2008. The lawsuit says the student, a sophomore at the time, was heading to her dorm room in Virginia Hall.

The Free Lance–Star isn’t naming the woman because it is the newspaper’s policy not to identify rape victims.

The attacker has not been found.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com