MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University has agreed to pay a former student $100,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming it mishandled her report of being raped at an off-campus residence, according to federal court documents.
The university last month agreed to pay the woman to drop the case, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The university admitted no liability, and in return for the settlement, the woman agreed not to discuss it.
According to the lawsuit that alleged violations of Title IX, the federal law pertaining to sexual assault investigations, the woman told police and university investigators about the 2014 incident. The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault.
A school employee who oversaw the investigation prepared a report for a student conduct board, which later determined Nathan Nkwaya, the alleged attacker, was not responsible for sexual misconduct and could remain in school.
Nkwaya later pleaded guilty to battery and unlawful restraint in Monongalia County Circuit Court and was sentenced in July 2016 to one year in jail.
According to the lawsuit, school investigator Peggy Runyon interviewed the woman on several separate occasions and tried to discourage her from going through with a hearing that could end up in Nkwaya’s expulsion.
The lawsuit said Runyon’s report to the board stated the woman “consented to sexual events” and she testified to the board that the sexual acts were consensual, even though the woman said they were not.
Runyon’s report and testimony to the conduct board was “not appropriate, not impartial, not equitable, not adequate and not reliable,” the lawsuit said.
Three days before Nkwaya entered into a plea agreement in the criminal case, Runyon returned to the university’s police department, where she had worked from 1999 until 2014 when she joined the Title IX office.
WVU spokeswoman April Kaull declined to say why Runyon left the Title IX office, saying it was a personnel matter. Kaull said Runyon now works as a crime prevention coordinator and is responsible for community relations.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.