Utah asks judge to dismiss rape victim’s lawsuit against USU

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office is asking a judge to dismiss a rape victim’s lawsuit against Utah State University and several school officials.

In a filing late Friday, lawyers for the state asked a judge to throw out Victoria Hewlett’s federal lawsuit against USU. Hewlett said she was beaten and raped by Jason Relopez at a 2015 party at a school fraternity. Hewlett alleges USU knew other women had reported being sexually assaulted by Relopez, but the school did nothing about it.

Relopez pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges and was sentenced to jail time. FOX 13 does not typically name sexual assault victims, but Hewlett has spoken out about her assault and USU’s actions.

In the filing, the attorney general’s office argued that USU and school officials are protected by immunity laws. It also pushed back at claims “USU allowed a culture of drinking that fostered an environment conducive to sexual assault.”

“But, an allegation of tolerance of underage drinking – even if proven to be true – does not put anyone on ‘actual notice’ of sexual assault and is not ‘deliberate indifference’ to any sexual assault,” assistant Utah Attorney General Meb Anderson wrote.

The state also took issue with Hewlett’s claim that after she was raped and reported it, USU never offered her any counseling and she ultimately had to leave.

“First, there is no such established right to a University education,” the state’s filing says. “Second, even if there were, Hewlett’s allegations fail to support a claim that the Individual Defendants violated such a right.”

The filing by the Utah Attorney General’s Office also insisted that USU’s student code of conduct does not create a “contract.”

“These provisions solely govern student conduct, and does not set forth any obligation on behalf of USU,” Anderson wrote.

Hewlett’s attorneys will respond to the state’s motion to dismiss before a federal judge makes a ruling.

Read the Utah Attorney General’s filing here:

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