Alleged rape victim’s family sues William Paterson University over ‘botched’ investigation

The family of an alleged rape victim is suing William Paterson University because they feel the school did not thoroughly investigate the crime.

Cherelle Locklear's family wear shirts with her pictures on them to keep her memory alive. Locklear was found hanging in her dorm room a few weeks after she was allegedly raped. The family is now suing William Paterson University.

Cherelle Locklear's family wear shirts with her pictures on them to keep her memory alive. Locklear was found hanging in her dorm room a few weeks after she was allegedly raped. The family is now suing William Paterson University. (9/15/16)

ROSELAND - The family of an alleged rape victim is suing William Paterson University because they feel the school did not thoroughly investigate the crime.

Cherelle Locklear died two months after the alleged sexual assault. Locklear was a junior at the university. She went to a party at the Sigma Pi fraternity and was allegedly raped.

Her family says that she didn’t report the crime initially or tell the family. A few weeks later she attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. Her family’s attorneys say that after Locklear was hospitalized, she reported the rape to victim services, but they say that nothing was done.

"There was a downhill slide by [Locklear] in terms of her emotional state because no one was paying attention to these allegations, no one was reaching out for her,” says attorney Peter Till.

Another a month after her hospitalization, Locklear’s roommate found her hanging by a necktie. The attorneys say that this was not suicide and that more will come out in court.

The family is suing William Paterson University, the school's police department and the fraternity.  They claim the school never properly investigated or protected [Locklear].  They also say the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office was not notified about the incident.

"She was on campus for an extended period of time not knowing whether those culprits were still on campus and still had the potential to hurt her again and that's the Title IX violation."

A spokesperson for William Paterson says that they have not yet seen the lawsuit so they cannot comment on specifics. The university does deny the accuracy of many of the statements and says that they do not and will not ignore or fail to investigate reports of sexual assault.

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