The University of Maine System says it is close to settling a federal lawsuit brought by a former student who claimed her school did not investigate two separate reports of sexual assault.

The woman filed her complaint in U.S. District Court in Portland in January. In the lawsuit, she detailed two incidents that allegedly occurred in January 2012, when she was a student at USM.

The parties participated in mediation last week, and a notice of settlement was filed Friday, according to court records. The court ordered the parties to finalize settlement terms within 30 days.

Dan Demeritt, executive director of communications for the university system, confirmed that private mediation was successful. The parties are still drafting a final settlement, which will be made public when it is signed, he said.

“The parties’ retained legal counsel are working on a draft settlement agreement with all the specific terms to which the parties will agree to resolve and dismiss the case,” Demeritt wrote in an email.

Attorney Sarah Churchill, who represents the former student, declined to comment Tuesday. The Portland Press Herald does not identify the victims of alleged sexual crimes without their consent.

Her complaint states that she reported both assaults to campus police and sought medical treatment at a campus health center, but her allegations were never investigated. She said her experience caused her severe emotional distress that required medical treatment, prompted her to withdraw from the university and forced her to delay the completion of her degree.

In court records, the university admitted the woman reported the alleged assaults to the campus police. However, it denied her claims that it did not investigate her reports, protect her on campus or take any steps to discipline two accused men. The lawsuit initially named those two men as defendants, but they were removed from the case in May.

The first assault allegedly took place at a gathering in a USM dorm room. The complaint states a male student gave the woman what she believed to be marijuana, although he later admitted to her that it was not. The drug made her “extremely loopy” and gave her hallucinations. The woman said the male student then assaulted her.

The second assault allegedly occurred just days later in the woman’s dorm on the Gorham campus. A male acquaintance who was not a USM student came to visit her and found her in the shower. She told him he was not welcome in the shower, but he assaulted her until she could get away from him.

There were 15 forcible sex offenses reported on the Gorham campus in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. While the federal government now reports that data differently, that number included reports of both rape and fondling. In 2016, the most recent year for which data was available, the total number of reports for rape and fondling in on-campus student housing facilities was six.

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: mainemegan


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