Alleged rape victim's case against Glenville State dismissed

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 16, 2013

CLARKSBURG - A lawsuit against Glenville State College for an allegedly botched rape investigation has been dismissed from federal court.

Daniel Bell, Director and Chief of Public Safety of Glenville State College; Jayde Layne; Kala Fisher; Jordan Watkins; Erietta Patrianakos; and John and/or Jane Does 1-20 were also named as defendants in the suit.

On Oct. 8, the court held a hearing on the pending motions of the defendants to dismiss the complaint filed by Amanda L. Smith, and the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, according to an order filed Oct. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg.

"Paragraph 98 of plaintiff's complaint does set out the elements of a battery claim when it states that defendant Layne 'did unlawfully and intentionally [make] physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the plaintiff and caused physical harm to the plaintiff.' However, plaintiff's complaint fails to state how... Layne's actions meet the elements of battery," a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss filed Aug. 14 states.

"The only other allegation made against (Layne) states that... Layne had been uncooperative with the investigation, refused to identify students in the rooms and had changed her statement regarding the incident and violated the Student Code of Conduct."

None of these allegations "come close to alleging any type of action that satisfies elements of battery. Handing a drink to a person is not battery. There is no unlawful physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature in the act of handling a drink to a person. There are no allegations that this drink caused any damage to the plaintiff. Helping a person get to a shower is not battery. There is no unlawful physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature in the act of helping a person get to a shower," the memorandum states.

On Sept. 18, 2010, Smith, who was then a sophomore at Glenville, returned from her on-campus job to her dorm room at Goodwin Hall and was in there approximately one hour when she received a text message from Michael McHenry, a fellow student, asking if she wanted to go out for ice cream, according to a complaint filed Sept. 17, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg.

About that same time, Layne, another student, knocked on Smith’s door requesting help in the dorm’s laundry room. However, Layne agreed to join Smith and McHenry for ice cream. They were accompanied by Watkins, Patrianakos, and several “unidentified students.”

After returning to Goodwin Hall between 5:30 and 6 p.m., Smith alleges Layne and another student, Fisher, asked if she would get McHenry to buy them alcohol. When Smith declined, Fisher and Layne then asked Patrianakos, who agreed.

According to the suit, Patrianakos then took the alcohol to Watkins’ room and left to be with her boyfriend. Shortly thereafter, Smith joined other students, including Layne in Watkins’ room.

About 8:30 p.m., Smith says she left to help her roommate carry groceries to their room on the second floor. Upon returning to Watkins’ room, Smith says she found additional students present, including “unknown black males mixing drinks.”

Later around 9 p.m. Smith says Layne, who’d previously been mixing drinks in the bathroom, offered her a plastic cup. After consuming the unspecified contents of half of it, Layne brought her a different cup.

Sometime between then and 10 p.m., the suit maintains Smith appeared she was having a “mild seizure” after becoming nauseous “with alternating bouts of vomiting and urinating, crying and screaming.” Sometime thereafter, she says she became unconscious.

According to the suit, someone removed Smith’s clothes, leaving her in only her bra and panties. Upon discovering her disrobed and unconscious, Layne, Patrianakos and Fisher put Smith in the shower, the suit says.

Sometime after 10 p.m., Andrew Lewis, Goodwin Hall’s resident director, heard Smith screaming and went to Watkins’ room to investigate. After arriving, he was joined by Travis Nesbitt, a student in an adjoining room, in giving first aid to Smith.

At 10:09 p.m., Lewis called campus police requesting medical assistance for Smith. Twelve minutes later, Officer William Boone called for an ambulance.

An ambulance arrived at an unspecified time to take Smith to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston. According to the suit, Nesbitt accompanied Smith, and observed her “holding her hands between her legs, stating “‘it hurts.’”

Upon arrival at SJMH, Smith was placed in the intensive care unit. An initial examination of Smith allegedly discovered “a bodily fluid ‘pouring out’ of [her] vagina that ‘was not supposed to be there together with bruising on [her] thigh and arm.”

A toxicology report revealed Smith had a blood alcohol content of .236, and the presence of benzodiazepine in her system, the suit says. In her suit, Smith avers she was not taking any medication containing benzodiazepine, and only consumed half of the drink Layne gave her.

Because she did not regain full consciousness until sometime the next morning, a sexual assault examination was performed in Smith later that afternoon, the suit says. The examination revealed, among other things, bruising on Smith’s left shin, knee, upper arm and hip, the suit says.

Also, the examination allegedly discovered Smith had “a large amount of mucus/discharge from her vagina that was ‘white/yellow’ in color in spite of the negative findings of vaginitis and the appearance of bacteria in her vagina opening.” Furthermore, a nurse allegedly told Smith’s mother “This should not be there” when showing her a swab of the substance removed from Smith’s vagina.

The suit accuses GSC officials, specifically Bell, of “failing to follow protocol routine in sexual assault cases.” This includes the “lack of safeguarding and storing of evidence [and] properly securing a crime scene.”

According to the suit, campus police failed to collect both the bed sheets in Watkins’ room and the clothes he used to dress Smith after she threw-up on herself before they were laundered. Also, the cups used to mix and serve the drinks were destroyed before they could be collected, the suit says.

Additionally, the suit alleges an investigatory notebook kept by Bell was “accidently placed in a washing machine and destroyed.” Furthermore, Bell “showed minimal training” when he accused Smith of “placing the bruises found on her body herself,” she claims.

According to the suit, the inability of campus police to timely collect evidence was a result of no certified law enforcement officer being on duty at the time Lewis called them for help. The investigation did not begin until Glenville Police Sgt. Casey Jones arrived at a time not specified, the suit says.

Any investigation into who might have raped Smith was hindered by Layne, Watkins, Patrianakos and Fisher refusing to cooperate with police, the suit says. According to the suit, they “have refused to identify students in the room and have changed their statements.”

Following her alleged attack, Smith says she attempted to complete her classes that semester. However, due to harassment by Layne, Fisher, Watkins, Patrianakos and other students, who are named as co-defendants in the suit, Smith says she found not only attending classes, but also living in Goodwin Hall difficult.

Assurances college administrators made to “implement reasonable accommodations” for her to finish her classes, Smith said, were not kept, the suit says. After receiving a letter dated Oct. 7, 2010, from the college’s provost that she would most likely receive failing grades in her classes, Smith decided to withdraw.

According to her suit, college officials continued to display insensitivity toward her after she withdrew. Bell, Lewis and Jerry Burkhammer II, the dean of student affairs, were all no-shows for a meeting with Smith and her parents when she returned to campus to retrieve some personal belongings from her dorm room, she says.

In the two years since she was attacked, Smith says there have been other sexual assaults take place on campus. Though she does not provide specifics, Smith says due to “a lack of investigatory technique and result” similar to what happened in her case, the other women “are considering filing separate claims against [GSC].”

As a result of her attack, the failure of campus police to properly investigate it and the harassment she received afterwards, Smith alleges she’s suffered “severe and permanent psychological damage, emotional distress and decreased educational opportunities.” Along with ones for civil rights violations, she makes claims for failure to train, retaliation, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Smith was seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She was represented by E. Lavoyd Morgan Jr.

Layne was represented by Kevin W. Hughart of Hughart Law Office. Fisher was represented by Steven B. Nanners. Glenville and Bell were represented by David J. Mincer.

The case was assigned to District Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Clarksburg case number: 1:12-cv-00147

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