A New Jersey mother filed a lawsuit against William Paterson University on September 8, alleging the school mishandled her daughter’s rape accusations, ultimately leading to her suicide, NJ.com reports.
On November 22, 2015, Cherelle Locklear’s roommates found her body hanging in their dorm room bathroom on the campus of William Paterson in Wayne, New Jersey.
Marquesa C. Jackson-Locklear is actively seeking justice for her daughter’s death. In her suit, Jackson-Locklear states her daughter was hospitalized for five days after attempting to overdose on pills just one month prior to her death.
According to the report, Locklear, 21, was raped on or around September 25 at the Sigma Pi Fraternity house. She did not immediately report the assault. Many rape victims remain silent due to shame and public backlash.
However, after she was released from the hospital in October, she confided in the school’s victim services coordinator, Theresa A. Bivaletz.
Bivaletz encouraged Locklear to report the sexual assault to the university’s police department, the lawsuit said. She reported the rape to university police in November, the same month she committed suicide.
Jackson-Locklear says campus detectives Ellen DeSimone and Michael John Arp failed to investigate the assault as required by law. The suit also claims that after filing 11 Open Public Records Act Requests (OPRA), the alleged rapist’s name was redacted from the report. The report also accuses the school of failing to handle prior rape accusations made by other university students, leading to “a climate in which such misconduct against women was tolerated,” NJ.com reports.
In response, university spokeswoman Mary Beth Zeman released a statement Tuesday afternoon: “We are aware of the lawsuit filed by the student’s mother and are unable to comment on any such legal matters. The university will continue to focus on the safety and well-being of all of its members and offers a variety of counseling resources for students who seek help with personal challenges.”
SOURCE: NJ.com | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter