Ex-Princeton student convicted of sexual assault ‘entered women’s bathroom on several occasions but the college failed to act’
He had a record of concerning behavior, according to a new lawsuit
Princeton was aware of and failed to stop sexual harassment by a male student in the weeks before he sexually assaulted a female student in October 2015, a new lawsuit alleged.
The university “knew or had reason to know that Defendant R.F. was repeatedly gaining unauthorized entering the women’s bathroom in the dormitory in which Plaintiff resided for personal gratification,” the lawsuit claimed.
The lawsuit is about a sexual assault that occurred on Princeton's campus on the same day that Ronbo Fan, then a sophomore, committed a sexual assault. The description of the assault in the lawsuit matches descriptions of Fan's attack published in newspaper articles at the time.
The attacker is referred to in the lawsuit as R.F., but is never explicitly identified as Fan, who was expelled shortly after being arrested for the sexual assault. Fan was admitted to a three year pre-trial intervention program in June 2016. Upon completion of the program, his charges will be dismissed.
In the incident in October 2015, Fan gained access to the student's dorm room while she was asleep and sexually assaulted her, the lawsuit alleged. Princeton’s internal investigation found that the plaintiff had been sexually assaulted, and that Fan had previously entered the women’s bathroom in the plaintiff’s dorm “on multiple occasions.”
Princeton demonstrated “a pattern of deliberate indifference” to the harassment before the assault, the plaintiff claimed. “The indifference of Defendant Princeton to the risks posed by Defendant R.F created or permitted the opportunity for Defendant R.F.'s sexual assault of Plaintiff on October 31, 2015.”
The assault caused emotional distress and injury upon the plaintiff that negatively impacted her education, the lawsuit alleged. In addition, Princeton failed “to provide reasonable accommodation” after her assault.
“Defendant Princeton refused multiple requests for such accommodation, breaching their duty and further causing mental anguish and emotional distress to the Plaintiff,” the lawsuit added.
The lawsuit was filed September 14 in the Mercer County division of New Jersey Superior Court, but has not been previously reported upon. Princeton successfully filed on October 30 for the case to be removed from the state court and take place instead in federal district court in New Jersey.
Princeton has not filed a response to the complaint yet in court, but is scheduled to do so by November 27. The University is being represented in the case by William F. Maderer and Ryan E. San George of Saiber LLC, a New Jersey-based law firm.
This is not the first claim this year that Princeton mishandled a sexual assault case. A former graduate student alleged in a March lawsuit that he was sexually assaulted by an undergraduate who was later hired as a SHARE peer.
The university does not comment on pending litigation, according to Daniel Day, assistant vice president for communications.