Crystal Stroup, 19, one of the plaintiffs, said she was raped one night in 2015 by the male student — identified in the suit as “J.G.” — at her apartment near the Kansas State campus in Manhattan. She said Tuesday that she was shocked to hear earlier this year that she was not the first K-State student to report that the man had been involved in a rape.
Stroup said she reported the rape to authorities because she didn’t want it to happen again to somebody else. Then, she said, she heard that the same man had been accused of raping another K-State student, Sara Weckhorst, a year earlier. “I was the ‘somebody else,’ and that really hurt,” Stroup said. “And that motivated me even more.”
Stroup and Weckhorst have joined forces in the civil suit, accusing Kansas State of negligence and of violating their rights under the federal anti-discrimination law Title IX. The Washington Post generally does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault, but Stroup and Weckhorst said they wanted to go public.
Kansas State spokesman Steve Logback said the university had no comment on the pending litigation. “K-State provides support and assistance services to all reported victims of sexual assault, regardless of where the assault is reported to have occurred,” Logback said.
The suit against Kansas State focuses on the university’s internal deliberations over investigations of sexual assault.
But rape charges related to the 2014 and 2015 incidents are also moving on a separate track in state court. Criminal court documents show that Jared Ralph Gihring is charged with rape and sodomy in connection with the alleged assault against Stroup, and with rape in the alleged assault against Weckhorst.
Brenda Jordan, an attorney for Gihring, declined to comment.
At issue in Stroup and Weckhorst’s complaint is whether Kansas State was reluctant to pursue internal investigations of reported sexual violence that occurs off campus. The two women, who are represented by attorney Cari Simon, accused Kansas State of “deliberate indifference” to Weckhorst’s 2014 report of being raped at a fraternity house. They charged that the university “refused to investigate” because the alleged assault occurred off-campus.
The Obama administration has pushed colleges and universities repeat edly in the past several years to take steps to prevent sexual violence and respond promptly to reports of sexual assault, no matter where it occurs.
“Under Title IX, a school must process all complaints of sexual violence, regardless of where the conduct occurred, to determine whether the conduct occurred in the context of an education program or activity or had continuing effects on campus or in an off-campus education program or activity,” the Education Department said in a question-and-answer document in 2014.
Kansas State is one of more than 200 schools under investigation by the department’s Office for Civil Rights for its handling of sexual violence reports.
Stroup told The Post she left Kansas State last spring after finishing her freshman year. She described that year as an ordeal. Her grades suffered, she said, as she dealt with the fallout from the October 2015 rape and fears over whether she would encounter her assailant again. Throughout the school year, she said, “he was allowed to roam campus.”
The civil suit said that her assailant was arrested in July 2016 on a rape charge, and that the university subsequently expelled him. If K-State had investigated Weckhorst’s original report in 2014, the suit alleges, the assailant would have been removed from campus and prevented from harming Stroup.
The university knew of Weckhorst’s “disturbing report of rape by J.G. and did nothing to decrease the substantial and foreseeable risk he posed to other female students,” the suit said.
Stroup said she does not intend to return to the university and aims to pursue her studies elsewhere.