On Campus

Sex-assault victim sues Carleton for negligence

Two years after unsolved crime, school says victim failed to keep a "proper lookout"

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the victim of a violent and unsolved sex attack in a Carleton University chemistry lab two years ago is suing the school for more than $500,000.

The 25-year-old Ottawa woman, who refers to herself as Jane Doe in the suit, says university officials were negligent in failing to take adequate security measures, which included equipping laboratory buildings with swipe-card security devices and ensuring all entrances to the building were visibly monitored by security cameras.

In its statement of defense, the university claims the victim failed to keep a “proper lookout” for her own safety and also failed to register with the school’s department of university safety as a late-working student. It also alleges that she chose to remain on the premises alone and didn’t lock the door to the laboratory where she was working.

The university says she knew, or ought to have known, the steps she could take to notify the safety department of her intention to work late on her own.

In the suit, which was filed last December, the woman is seeking $535,000 in damages for injuries she suffered in the August 2007 assault, as well as mental suffering and psychological harm, out-of-pocket expenses and the future loss of income.

Since the attack, Carleton has since spent $1.6 million upgrading security, which included more than tripling the number of video cameras on campus, enhancing the campus network of emergency phones, improving outdoor lighting, adding five security officers and 20 uniformed student-safety patrollers and installing swipe-card readers for access to the chemistry and biology buildings.

The lawsuit, which was filed in December, is ongoing.

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