What to Know
- Former Dartmouth professors Paul Whalen, Bill Kelley and Todd Heatherton allegedly groped and sexually assaulted their students.
- The trio is accused of creating a hostile academic climate in which they hosted lab meetings in bars and threatened students.
- The students filed a class-action lawsuit against the three professors and are seeking $70 million in damages.
A class-action lawsuit filed by a group of former and current Dartmouth College students described the climate three professors allegedly created as a "21st-century Animal House."
The federal lawsuit against Dartmouth's trustees was filed in New Hampshire on behalf of seven students Thursday. It claims the three psychology professors sexually harassed and abused scores of female graduate students for years, including two who said they were raped.
U.S. & World
Drinking and hot-tub parties were hosted by the trio and the educators would have lab meetings at bars, according to the complaint. The professors allegedly groped female students, made sexual advances to them numerous times and sexually assaulted graduate students.
According to the complaint, the professors delayed exams, expressed their control over the students’ academic careers and threatened to defund research grants to female students who rejected their sexual advances.
The lawsuit states the university did not protect the students. Whalen and Kelley resigned before the school took action and Heatherton retired.
Dartmouth denies the allegations that it ignored complaints about the professors.
College spokesman Justin Anderson said the school took the appropriate steps to investigate the professors after they were first accused of sexual misconduct in April 2017. The school claims it was prepared to take action against the professors before they departed.
Whalen and Kelley couldn't be reached for comment. Heatherton apologized for acting inappropriately at conferences but said he never socialized or had sexual relations with students.
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office conducted a criminal investigation into the three professors last year. The students are seeking $70 million in damages, according to the lawsuit.
Last year, 15 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students wrote to the university's newspaper that the three professors created a hostile academic environment where "sexual harassment is normalized."