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Duke, Ex-Lacrosse Player Settle Suit Over Grade

Posted May 14, 2007
Updated May 15, 2007

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— A former Duke University lacrosse player has settled his lawsuit against the school and a former instructor over a failing grade he claimed he received because he was a member of the team.

Kyle Dowd graduated in May 2006, two months after a woman said she was sexually assaulted at a lacrosse team party. The allegations set off a tumultuous few weeks in Durham, with almost daily protests by people who criticized lacrosse team members for a pattern of rowdy behavior.

The lawsuit, which named the Durham school and visiting professor Kim Curtis, alleged Curtis discriminated against Dowd when she gave him an F in a course on politics and literature. The lawsuit, which claimed fraud and negligence, said he had gotten Cs on his assignments in the class.

The lawsuit said the failing grade nearly kept Dowd from graduating. After he appealed, the university changed the grade to a "D," citing a computation error.

As part of the settlement, Dowd's grade was changed to "P" for passing. Neither side admitted liability, the school said in a brief news release. Other details weren't released.

The lawsuit sought $60,000 in damages.

Curtis was among 88 faculty members who signed their names in April 2006 to a full-page advertisement in Duke's student newspaper titled "What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?"

"Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism," the ad read, in part.

The ad drew harsh criticism from supporters of the lacrosse team, who believed it painted the players as guilty before the facts of the racially divisive case were known.

Last month, all charges were dismissed against the three lacrosse players who had been charged in the case. Authorities said there was no credible evidence that the woman had been assaulted.


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  • refiman May 15, 2007

    strange, the coach that had nothing to do with any of this is asked to resign. the faculity members who jumped to conclusions and acted poorly get to keep their jobs. Strange.

  • Iron Man May 15, 2007

    The professors, including the President, who signed the document condeming the Lacross Players shows a total lack of character. These people are intelligent and well educated and should have shown maturity. However, they chose to react much like children in a sand box. If I were a Duke student and or alumni, I would be ashamed of this conduct and ask for the president's resignation.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama May 15, 2007

    Another example of Liberal teachers and professors with a Liberal Politically Correct agenda using their authority to force their viewpoint and agenda on others.

  • tarheel1980 May 14, 2007

    Something is wrong with this story. At one point, the president of Duke put the students on some type of administrative suspension. I thought this sounded like he was not supporting the students, but was assured that it was done so that the students could leave the campus and not be penalized from a grading prospective. Now it seems like that was just talk and that they had been suspended due to lack of support by the president. It would be nice to get the truth.

  • mvnull May 14, 2007

    sean_kelly, I don't know if you are wrong. I just looked on the Duke website and she is still listed as faculty. It could be outdated information. On the other hand, I have known Visiting Assistant Professors who have had that title for over a decade.

    I didn't see the grade analysis. Unfortunately, all F's are not created equal. A C is 75-ish, C- is 72-ish. What about F? Is it 60? 50? 0? My gut tells me she cheated the student, but the one thing the case should have taught us is to wait until enough information comes in.

  • davidgnews May 14, 2007

    Well said, spiritwarriorwoman1

  • bait taker May 14, 2007

    Yes, tongue and cheek. Still, they're innocent and Nifong's pretty evil. I've thought about Finnerty's anger and wondered if . . he very well could be.

  • billengr99 May 14, 2007

    Now, rascal, even I don't believe they have always been noble and productive members of society. Come on, that was a little tongue in cheek, wasn't that? :-)

    As for someone who beats up gays not being liberal, well you never know. Some of the most anti-gay men I have ever known have turned out to be gay AND liberal.

  • bait taker May 14, 2007

    No bill, anti-Christian or anti-white speech IS hate speech(not sure why you think I'd disagree). Since you didn't hear any liberals speak out in favor of the lacrosse 3, let me change that by expressing my true feelings(honestly). NIFONG SHOULD BE DISBARRED! THESE BOYS WERE INNOCENT ALL ALONG! THEY ARE, AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN PRODUCTIVE AND NOBLE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY! Except for Finnerty, of course. He likes to beat up gays for fun. Safe guess he ain't a liberal.

  • spiritwarriorwoman1 May 14, 2007

    Kim Curtis abused her authority, had she not, Duke would not have been able to adjust this grade.

    I hope and pray she never finds another class to teach in her life. A teacher that cannot keep their own opinions out of the classroom is little more than a useless autocrat.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB