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NKU seeks gag order in sexual assault lawsuit

Abby Anstead, Editor-in-Chief

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COVINGTON, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University lawyers filed a motion Friday to ask for a gag order in the ongoing federal lawsuit involving a female student, who says the university mishandled her sexual assault case.

If enacted, a gag order would prohibit anyone associated with the case from speaking to the media. The university also wants to seal all depositions from the public.

The motion is the latest in the lawsuit involving a female student, identified as Jane Doe in the suit, who said she was raped in 2013 by a fellow student in her dorm room. Doe alleges the university did not protect her from her alleged attacker and did not enforce his sanctions.

Doe’s attorney, Kevin Murphy, said he will file a response and object to the motion. 

“This is a public university — and instead of encouraging freedom of expression and freedom of the press — they’re trying to silence,” Murphy said. 

“Defendants request that the Court enter a gag order prohibiting the parties and their counsel from any further communication with the press regarding the merits or allegations of this case and seal the deposition transcripts and student records filed, or to be filed of record, in this case,” the motion states.  

They argued in court documents that “Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s Counsel’s participation in the creation of unduly prejudicial publicity seriously threatens Defendants’ ability to obtain a fair trial by a panel of impartial jurors.”

The court document also mentions seven separate news stories regarding the lawsuit, stating Doe and her attorney have been vocal with the press.

“These comments paint an extremely negative picture of the Defendants in widely disseminated news sources,” the court document states.

The gag order follows a July 12 court deposition given by former Police Chief Les Kachurek.

In the deposition, Murphy asked Kachurek if police are notified when a student reports an incident of sexual assault to Norse Violence Prevention Center or the Title IX coordinator.

“If the victim chooses to have the police contacted, yes,” Kachurek responded in the deposition.

Murphy then asked what happens if a student does not want police intervention, according to court records. 

“If we’re notified, we have a de facto procedure where we will create an internal flier with the individual’s photo, demographic information, vehicle information, things of that nature. Oftentimes we’re — the individual is not identified, the identity is not conveyed to us,” Kachurek said, according to the deposition.

Murphy asked if there was anything in writing that conveys that information to the victim, according to court records. 

“In other words, unless you go to the police directly, the police will not have any idea who your attacker is, nor will they have any real way of monitoring his sanctions,” Murphy said, according to the deposition.

Kachurek said he can’t speak to the specificities of the Norse Violence Prevention Center or the Office of Student Conduct, but the university, including the police department, “will stipulate to whatever choice the victim makes in this matter,” according to the deposition.

University spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen said “the motion speaks for itself.” 

She also said the motion hinges on Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law to protect student privacy rights.            

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NKU seeks gag order in sexual assault lawsuit