Editor’s Note: The News-Graphic does not identify victims of sexual assaults unless they specifically request that we do so. Ava Stokes has made such a request.

 

Georgetown College’s motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by former student Ava Stokes who was raped in a campus dorm will be heard Thursday, Dec. 2 at 9 a.m.

Stokes has accused Georgetown College officials of attempting to keep her quiet following the rape in which Cody Alan Arnett was convicted in August on seven counts and faces multiple life sentences. The lawsuit was filed Sept. 15 in Scott County Circuit Court.

Stokes enrolled as a Georgetown College student and a member of the volleyball team in the fall of 2018 and was assigned an upper room in Hambrick Village, even though she was a freshman, according to the lawsuit.

On Sept. 23, Stokes was “brutally attacked, sexually assaulted and raped repeatedly at knife point in her dormitory building by an intruder,” states the lawsuit.

The lawsuit questioned how such as attack could have occurred and gone on for “hours without detection” by college security personnel or any other representative of the college. The dormitory did not have any normal security measures such as automatic door locks, peep holes, increased exterior lighting, upgraded emergency phones, residential advisors, monitoring of visitors, lighting in parking lots, increased security patrols and more security cameras, states Stokes’ lawsuit.

“Despite Defendants’ knowledge of these facts and in complete contrast to the safe, supportive and Christian educational environmental that they promised her, Ms. Stokes was met with hostility and abandonment by the Defendants following her traumatizing assault,” states the lawsuit. “Upon her return to campus and the volleyball team, Ms. Stokes was abandoned, harassed into silence, punished for her status as a victim of sexual assault, and was denied equal athletic and educational opportunities.”

Because the rapist’s family was “local”, the Stokes family’s requests to restrict his access to the campus was met with “flippant and uncaring refusal,” by the college, states the suit. 

In addition, Stokes’ lawsuit states:

—Felicia Pace, the volleyball coach warned Stokes not to discuss her ordeal and “actively silenced” Stokes on several occasions. Pace “openly and unnecessarily reprimanded and shamed” Stokes.

—Then President William Jones, Athletic Director Brian Evans and Kimberly Horne Chandler, Title IX Coordinator, were each made aware of the harassment, but took no action to remedy the situation. Stokes was eventually “forced” to leave the volleyball team and eventually the school.

—Stokes’ lawsuit claims the college intentionally failed to inform students of criminal activity on campus. The lawsuit does not specify the incidents.

—Stokes lawsuit notes a “trend of sexual misconduct and institutional indifference” on campus and notes Jones’ dismissal as president following sexual assault allegations.

Georgetown College has challenged the lawsuit claiming Stokes’ complaint is “inaccurate, baseless or mischaracterizes the facts,” and Georgetown College denied the claims. The college also claims the statute of limitations on filing a civil lawsuit had expired and several of the defendants named in the lawsuit were named because of their employment titles with the college. The college states in its legal response to the lawsuit that the intruder was actually apprehended by Georgetown College security as he was leaving the dormitory and medical assistance was provided to Stokes.

The college also states that because Arnett was not a member of the college, it had no “control” over him and could not restrict his movements.

 

Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com. 

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