Raped Student Sues Belmont U., Claims Inadequate Security

Lawsuit Claims On-Campus Apartment Lacked Proper Security

Reported By Deanna Lambert
POSTED: 3:46 pm CST December 9, 2009
UPDATED: 6:14 pm CST December 9, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A student is suing Belmont University claiming she was raped as a result of inadequate security at her campus apartment.

Belmont owns and operates eight residential halls and three apartment buildings on campus. The woman lived in Bruin Hills apartments last year when she was attacked.Statistics show there hadn’t been one forcible sexual assault on Belmont’s campus in 2005, 2006, or 2007, but that all changed last year at the apartments off 15 Avenue, right across from Belmont’s campus.The sophomore said she was raped when someone broke into her home at Bruin Hills, a place she thought she was safe.Belmont university is home to about 5,000 students, of which about 2,000 live in a dorm or an on-campus apartment, but according to a lawsuit filed last week, one student claims Belmont failed to keep her safe.The suit states on Dec. 5, 2008, an intruder gained access to the unidentified student’s home in Bruin Hills and forcibly sexually assaulted her and Belmont security did not arrive until several minutes after the assailant fled the scene.A year later, Metro Police have made no arrests in the case, but there are now claims that Belmont failed to provide adequate security and safety by failing to provide adequate door locks, security personnel to patrol and monitor residential facilities, according to the lawsuit.The suit also alleges that the security gates in front of Bruin Hills were disabled or turned off because they were expensive to maintain.Dr. Andrew Johnston, associate provost at Belmont University, said, “we’ve never made any decisions about the safety and security of students based on how expensive it would be to keep them safe.”The associate provost would not answer Channel 4’s questions specific to the lawsuit, but did boast about campus security. “Here we actually control visitation,” Johnston said.At Belmont you have to swipe a card to get into a dormitory. Also security officers patrol by car, foot and bicycle 24/7, and there are multiple cameras also keeping an eye on students.Security measures at Bruin Hills and Belmont’s two other apartment communities are much the same, but the associate provost says the focus is always on student safety.“We understand what huge trust parents put in us when their sons and daughters come here,” Johnston said.The student who was sexually assaulted last year is still enrolled in classes at Belmont. One of her attorneys, Philip Elbert, said “our client feels its important that people understand that this did happen at Belmont and that its something that the university needs to pay attention to.”The lawsuit is seeking an undetermined amount of money for damages.

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