Doe v. School of the Art Institute of Chicago et al

COMPLAINT filed by Jane Doe; Jury Demand. Filing fee $ 400, receipt number 0752-14601482.

Northern District of Illinois, ilnd-1:2018-cv-04240

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Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 1 of 44 PageID #:1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION JANE DOE, Plaintiff, v. No. SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, JOHN PHILLIPS, LISA WAINWRIGHT, AMANDA DASILVA, MICHAEL NICOLAI, and BETH WRIGHT Defendants. Plaintiff Demands Trial By Jury COMPLAINT Plaintiff JANE DOE, through her undersigned counsel, seeks redress against Defendants SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO ("SAIC"), JOHN PHILLIPS, LISA WAINWRIGHT, BETH WRIGHT, AMANDA DASILVA, and MICHAEL NICOLAI, and states: INTRODUCTION 1. When Jane Doe was a student at SAIC in 2015‐2016, she was repeatedly subjected to extreme sex discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, retaliation, and other forms of emotional and physical abuse and injury by John Phillips, a member of the faculty at SAIC and Doe's direct advisor. Before he was appointed as Doe's advisor, Phillips had previously sexually victimized other students at SAIC. SAIC officials knew of Phillips' past actions, and were aware that Doe was receiving services from SAIC as a student with disabilities. Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 2 of 44 PageID #:2 JURISDICTION 2. This Court has original subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343, and 29 U.S.C. § 626(c). This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the Illinois state claims, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367, as it is part of the same case or controversy as the federal claims. 3. Venue is proper in this judicial district in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1391, as all Defendants either reside in this District or have their principle place of business in this District, and all events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred within this District. The Parties 4. Plaintiff JANE DOE is a resident of Massachusetts. The vast majority of events set forth herein occurred when Doe resided in Chicago, Illinois, Cook County, within this judicial district. 5. Defendant SAIC is a private not‐for‐profit college. It is an accredited post‐ secondary institution of higher learning, which provides both graduate and undergraduate study. This curriculum provides for the preparation of visual artists, teachers of art, designers, and others in areas that include written, spoken, and media formats. In fiscal year 2016, average academic year full‐time‐equivalent enrollment of degree‐seeking students was 3,072 including international students from 50 countries. 6. SAIC is a place of public accommodation, receives federal funding and financial assistance within the meaning of 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a) and is otherwise subject to 2 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 3 of 44 PageID #:3 Title IX. SAIC receives federal financial aid funding from the Department of Education under the following programs: Federal Pell Grant Program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants Program, and the Federal Work Study Program. 7. Defendant JOHN PHILLIPS, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois in Cook County, Illinois. At all relevant times, Defendant Phillips was a faculty member at SAIC. 8. Defendant LISA WAINWRIGHT, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois in Cook County, Illinois. At all relevant times, Defendant Wainwright was the Dean of Faculty, Vice President of Academic Affairs at SAIC. 9. Defendant BETH WRIGHT, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois in Cook County, Illinois. At all relevant times, Defendant Wright was the Chair of Faculty at SAIC. 10. Defendant AMANDA DASILVA, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois in Cook County, Illinois. At all relevant times, Defendant DaSilva was the Director of Student Conflict Resolution. 11. Defendant MICHAEL NICOLAI, is a resident of Chicago, Illinois in Cook County, Illinois. At all relevant times, Defendant Nicolai was the Vice President of Human Resources, and Title IX Coordinator. Facts Upon Which Plaintiffs' Claims Are Based 12. Plaintiff JANE DOE (ʺDoeʺ) began her degree program at SAIC in September 2015. 3 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 4 of 44 PageID #:4 13. Doe's dream was to be an art professor. She has loved school and did well in college. She graduated summa cum laude in an honors program in undergraduate school and went on to complete a post‐graduate program at Brandeis University in order to fulfill her goal of getting accepted to a more prestigious, nationally known art school like SAIC. 14. Doe has a psychological disability including diagnoses of attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, impaired focus, and depression. Before Doe entered SAIC as a student, SAIC was aware of Doe's disability as Doe had a 504 plan in place relating to her disability. 15. In late 2015, SAIC was aware that Doe's disabilities were causing her stress and agitation and that she was under a doctor's care. 16. In 2016, SAIC assigned Defendant John Phillips to be Doe's one‐on‐one advisor, despite the fact that SAIC was aware of Doe's disability, was aware that Phillips was under investigation by SAIC for discrimination against another student, and was aware that Phillips had a history of sexual misconduct with students. 17. Phillips directly supervised Doe and had direct control over her academic career. 18. On February 4, 2016, Doe met with Defendant John Phillips for the first time. 19. During this initial meeting, Phillips told Doe he was in a four‐year relationship with an undergrad student, and his wife (who is also a professor at SAIC) 4 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 5 of 44 PageID #:5 found out and they were getting divorced. Phillips recommended that Doe watch a movie about a teacher who has a sexual relationship with a student at a boarding school and had Doe read a magazine known for articles about sex and violence in art. Phillips told Doe that he was only interested in her art if it depicted women or sexual conduct. 20. During this initial meeting, Doe discussed with Phillips that she had a psychological disability. 21. The advising meeting lasted three hours. Immediately after the meeting, Phillips began sending Doe images of paintings depicting women, violence, and sex. 22. On February 12, 2016, Phillips invited Doe to his apartment. Doe went to Phillips' apartment with a friend because she was worried about going alone. Phillips provided the students with alcohol and drugs. Phillips engaged in sexually abusive conduct with Doe and Doe's friend. Phillips photographed the two students naked. 23. On February 14, 2016, Phillips apologized to Doe for his conduct on February 12. Phillips told Doe that he was going to commit suicide by hanging himself and showed her a rope at his apartment. Doe informed Phillips that she was going to the symphony and encouraged him to not kill himself. Phillips asked Doe to come to his apartment. Doe feared that Phillips would commit suicide and agreed to go to his apartment after the symphony. 24. When Doe arrived at Phillips' apartment, he gave Doe alcohol and engaged in sexual activity with her. 5 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 6 of 44 PageID #:6 25. The next day Phillips texted Doe and told her not to tell her friends about him. Phillips asked Doe to come to his apartment again. Doe did not go. 26. Phillips' began texting and calling Doe every day. Phillips also began going to Doe's studio. Phillips insisted that Doe come to his apartment. Doe saw Phillips at his apartment approximately 10 times between February 15, 2016 and the end of February. Phillips engaged in sexual activity with Doe nearly every time she was at his apartment. 27. In early March 2016, Philips sent Doe a picture of people jumping off of buildings, insinuating that he was suicidal. Phillips continued to insist that Doe come to his apartment. Doe saw Phillips almost every day in March. Phillips engaged in sexual activity with Doe nearly every time she was at his apartment. 28. As a result of Defendant Phillips' conduct, Doe became depressed, had trouble concentrating and painting, and struggled to participate in educational activities. 29. During April 2016, Doe stayed at Phillips' apartment for an extended period. Doe's friend became worried about her; he could not find her and did not know whether she was safe. Phillips told Doe to not tell her friend about him. 30. In May 2016, Doe barely left Phillips' apartment. Phillips told Doe to not talk to her friends anymore. Phillips told Doe not to talk to her mother. Phillips often took Doe's phone and prevented her from communicating with her mother. Phillips 6 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 7 of 44 PageID #:7 told Doe that her mother did not know how to take care of her and he could take care of her better. 31. After the semester, Doe temporarily returned to Massachusetts with her mother. Philips told Doe to delete his number and all of his texts because he was worried about her mom finding out about his actions. Philips told Doe that she could no longer have contact with him and asked if he should get a lawyer to save his job. Phillips told Doe that he would be back on suicide watch if he lost his job. 32. In June 2016, Doe returned to Chicago for a summer course, during which time she planned to stay at a hotel. 33. Phillips went to the hotel and persuaded Doe to move in with him. Phillips told Doe to stop communicating with her mother. Once Phillips persuaded Doe to stay at his apartment, Phillips told Doe that he did not want her leaving the apartment. Philips was very abusive. On one occasion he locked her out of the rooftop garden as punishment for leaving a door open. 34. Phillips manipulated and controlled Doe by controlling her movements, controlling who she could talk to, controlling what she could wear, terrifying her into committing sex acts, incapacitating her with drugs and alcohol despite knowledge of her disability and the fact that she was taking prescription medications that should not be combined with the drugs and alcohol he was giving her, sexually violating her and taking sexually explicit video and photographs of her while her capacity was 7 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 8 of 44 PageID #:8 diminished, and disseminating naked images of her without her consent and with the intent to cause her distress. 35. On several occasions, Philips took sexually inappropriate pictures of Doe. He has repeatedly threatened to release them in retaliation for her reporting his misconduct. 36. Doe lost almost thirty pounds during the period when Phillips was abusing her. There were days that she was unable to get out of bed. Doe missed classes, workshops, and other educational programs and activities. 37. On June 19, 2016, Doe found naked photographs of other students on Phillips' computer. Doe confronted Phillips about the photographs and Phillips became angry with Doe and locked her out of the apartment. 38. Doe texted her mother, "HELP," then her phone died. 39. After receiving the plea for help from Doe, Doe's mother called Doe's friends to help find her. 40. On June 20, 2016, after learning that Doe was at Phillips' apartment, Doe's mother contacted Defendant Wainwright and told her she was gravely concern about her daughter's well‐being. Doe's mother explained that Phillips was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with Doe. 41. Defendant Wainwright refused to discuss the matter with Doe's mother citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, (FERPA) even though Doe had 8 Case: 1:18-cv-04240 Document #: 1 Filed: 06/18/18 Page 9 of 44 PageID #:9 previously signed a FERPA waiver allowing SAIC officials to talk with her mother due to her disability. 42. After Doe's mother told Wainwright about Phillips' inappropriate relationship with Doe, Wainwright did not report the matter to any SAIC official, as she was required to do. Instead, she called Phil