United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Catherine C. Eagles, District Judge.
plaintiff, Arianna Qayumi, has sued Duke University for
violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. She
contends that Duke's response to her March 6, 2011, rape
by two other students was clearly unreasonable and created a
hostile educational environment, depriving her of access to
educational opportunities and forcing her to transfer to
another school. The evidence viewed in the light most
favorable to Ms. Qayumi shows that Duke's response was
not clearly unreasonable, and therefore Duke's motion for
summary judgment will be granted.
Qayumi began attending Duke in the fall of
2010. Doc. 81-6 at ¶ 2. According to Ms.
Qayumi's evidence, on March 6, 2011, a fellow student,
Colby Leachman, drugged her and then raped her. Id.
at ¶¶ 3-10. Mr. Leachman was the son of a Duke
professor and the stepson of the Duke provost, and the rape
occurred in the provost's home. Id. at
¶¶ 6, 10. He also invited another student, Brian
Self, to rape Ms. Qayumi while she was drugged. See
Id. at ¶ 10. This rape occurred later that night in
Mr. Self's dorm room. Id. Mr. Leachman recorded
a short video of Ms. Qayumi's rape by Mr. Self. Doc. 71-3
at 3, 4-5. After the event, Mr. Leachman showed the video
“to a few people, but not [his] entire
Qayumi awoke the next day with bruises and indicators of
sexual activity but no memory of any sexual encounters. Doc.
83-2 at 6. She visited the Student Health Center on March 6,
but she left without seeing anyone. Doc. 71-16 at 37-38. She
left anonymous notes to Resident Advisors reporting that
someone had engaged in sexual conduct with her, that she was
bruised, and that she didn't remember the event. Doc.
83-2 at 6-7. She did not provide the names of anyone
involved, including her own. Id.
little more than a month later, the Duke University Police
Department heard about two incidents of possible sexual
misconduct. Doc. 71-7 at ¶¶ 3-4. Officers Dyson and
Stotsenberg investigated the rumors by interviewing numerous
students to identify persons with firsthand knowledge or
information. Id. at ¶¶ 4-11. They
eventually identified Mr. Leachman and Mr. Self as two of the
men involved in the two incidents. Id. at
¶¶ 3, 11. During interviews by law enforcement, Mr.
Leachman and Mr. Self each said the sexual activity was
consensual in both incidents. Id. at ¶ 11; Doc.
the incident not involving Ms. Qayumi, several other
witnesses reported that the woman involved had told them at
or around the time of the event that it was consensual. Doc.
71-7 at ¶ 12. Mr. Leachman and Mr. Self as well as the
other witnesses denied knowing the woman's name, and
Officer Stotsenberg was unable to identify the woman
involved. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12.
the incident involving Ms. Qayumi, Mr. Leachman initially
lied to Officer Stotsenberg, denying he had videotaped a
sexual encounter. Id. at ¶ 14. When Officer
Stotsenberg examined Mr. Leachman's phone and located the
video, Mr. Leachman again lied and identified the woman as
his previous girlfriend. Id. Eventually, Mr.
Leachman admitted that the people in the video were Mr. Self
and Ms. Qayumi. Id. He continued to say the sexual
encounter was consensual. Id. at ¶ 11. On the
video, Ms. Qayumi clearly and audibly objected to the
videotaping, but she cannot be heard either explicitly
consenting or objecting to the sexual activity. See
Doc. 71-3 at 5.
Stotsenberg and Dyson then interviewed Ms. Qayumi. Doc. 71-7
at ¶ 15. She told the officers she did not remember
having sexual contact with anyone on the night of March 6 and
that she had not consented to any sexual activity with
anyone. Doc. 83-2 at 5. Ms. Qayumi asked the officers to
continue investigating and asked them to talk with her
further after finals were over. Id. at 6, 8. She
also asked the officers not to disclose her name at that
point. Id. at 8.
point around this time, Mr. Self and Mr. Leachman told Ms.
Qayumi that they could be expelled and urged her not to
“get them in trouble.” Doc. 71-4. Ms. Qayumi
reported this to the Duke Police. Id.
2011, Stephen Bryan, Duke's Associate Dean of Students,
began an investigation into the incidents involving Mr.
Leachman and Mr. Self. Doc. 71-10 at ¶ 5. Among other
things, Dean Bryan wrote both men that he was considering
whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings for alcohol
policy violations, disorderly conduct, and unauthorized
photography against Mr. Leachman, Doc. 71-11, and for alcohol
policy violations and disorderly conduct against Mr. Self.
Doc 71-12. He did not indicate he was investigating claims of
sexual misconduct or rape. Lieutenant Stotensberg told Ms.
Qayumi about this investigation, reminded her that “as
I promised you, I have not revealed your name to [the student
conduct] office, ” and he asked her to tell him if she
still wanted to remain anonymous. Doc. 65-25 at 5.
13, 2011, Ms. Qayumi told her academic dean, Dr. Baishakhi
Taylor, that she believed she was a victim of sexual
misconduct in March 2011. Doc. 65-27 at 3. Ms. Qayumi told
Dr. Taylor she wanted to maintain privacy for the time being
so she could “decide what to do.” Id.
Dr. Taylor reported the incident to several Duke
administrators, including Dean Bryan. Id.
administrators thereafter contacted Ms. Qayumi on several
occasions, informing her that her cooperation was needed to
go forward with university disciplinary processes against Mr.
Leachman and Mr. Self for sexual misconduct and providing
information about Duke's resources for sexual assault
victims. E.g., Doc. 68-2; Doc. 68-3. In September
2011, Ms. Qayumi told Dean Bryan she did not want to be
involved in a disciplinary case and she did not want to talk
about the incident. Doc. 68-4 at 3.
November 2011, Dean Bryan issued a formal warning and written
reprimand to Mr. Leachman for violating two aspects of
Duke's alcohol policy. Doc. 71-13 at 3. He also said that
Duke was dropping the sexual misconduct investigation because
the victim decided “not to engage, ” but noted
Mr. Leachman's “very concerning” behavior.
Id. In January 2012, Dean Bryan gave Mr. Self a
formal warning and written reprimand for violating Duke's
alcohol policy. Doc. 71-14 at 3. Dean Bryan's letter to
Mr. Self did not mention any investigation into sexual
Qayumi took a leave of absence from Duke in the spring of
2012. Doc. 83-2 at 23. That spring, she sent Officer Dyson
several emails indicating she was ready to talk and wanted to
“file an official police report about what happened to
me.” Doc. 65-25 at 2-4. In May 2012, she spoke with
Officer Dyson by phone. Doc. 71-16. Officer Dyson told her he
had discussed the case with a Durham County prosecutor, who
told Officer Dyson that Ms. Qayumi would need to testify if
charges were brought. Doc. 71-6 at 4. Ms. Qayumi told Duke
police officers that she was ready to testify, but officers
told her the prosecution would not be successful. Doc. 83-2
that summer, Ms. Qayumi told Dean Bryan that she wanted to
initiate a disciplinary case, but she did not follow through
on the next steps when she returned to school in the fall of
2012. Doc. 71-10 at ¶¶ 12-13. Eventually, in March
2013, she submitted a written statement accusing Mr. Leachman
and Mr. Self of non-consensual sexual activity and
unauthorized recording. Id. at ¶ 14; Doc. 68-1.
Near the end of the month, Dean Bryan sent a no-contact order
to both men, directing them not to have any contact with Ms.