The mother of a William Paterson University student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming they failed to properly respond to her daughter’s rape allegations last year, which led her to commit suicide. 21-year-old Cherelle Locklear hung herself last November, two months after she claimed she was raped at a party at a Sigma Pi fraternity house. Despite alerting campus authorities about the rape, no attempt was made to discipline or even question the accused rapist. The suit, brought by Cherelle’s mother Marquesa C. Jackson-Locklear, names the public university, its police force, the school’s Sigma Pi chapter and several administrators as defendants.
Cherelle Locklear enrolled at the university, which is located in Wayne, New Jersey, in 2012. She did not initially report her rape, which she claimed occurred in September of 2015, but the allegations came to light after a suicide attempt in October. Cherelle then told the school’s victim services coordinator, who according to the lawsuit did not immediately notify campus police. The suit also claims that after being notified of the rape, authorities failed to conduct an “appropriate and thorough investigation.” No disciplinary action was ever taken against her accused rapist and that November Cherelle took her own life.
The national Sigma Pi organization released a statement saying the accused rapist was not a member of the fraternity at the time, having been expelled for unnamed reasons in 2014. They maintain, however, that they took the allegations seriously and launched an investigation of the matter, working with campus police. William Paterson University’s vice president Miki Cammarata in a statement Wednesday said media reports of the incident were inaccurate and that, “We do not and will not ignore or fail to thoroughly investigate reported incidents of sexual assault. The safety and well-being of our students is our primary concern.”
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