UPDATE: University of Oregon spokeswoman Julie Brown responded to the petition.
Over 1,500 people signed a petition created Feb. 21, calling for an end to the counterclaim filed by the University of Oregon in its legal response to a lawsuit filed by the survivor of an alleged sexual assault last spring. The petition, created on Change.org by user Sven Praoc, is addressed to the Board of Trustees, board chairman Chuck Lillis and the University of Oregon’s General Counsel.
The description of the petition reads: “Send the UO a message: suing rape survivors will not make campus safer for the 1 in 5 women who will be sexually assaulted, harassed, or raped each year on campus.”
Users can leave comments with their signature on the website.
Samantha Brace, a UO student, wrote: “As a person, I am apalled. As a female student at the University of Oregon, I am outraged. UO is putting them self on the wrong side of history, the student body does not support the legal actions being taken against this woman. Make it known.”
Alumna Diana Salazar wrote: “Stop victim blaming! As an alumna, Im ashamed to have gone here and will reconsider recommending folks to UO.”
University spokesperson Tobin Klinger told the Emerald that the counterclaim is not directed at the plaintiff herself, but rather her attorneys.
“The university is not seeking court costs or attorney fees from a student,” Klinger said in an email. “Rather, the counterclaim is directed at the Colorado-based attorneys. The goal is to hold the plaintiff’s attorneys responsible for their actions in bringing forth false allegations to leverage a difficult and unfortunate situation for their own financial gain.”
John Clune, the Colorado based lawyer representing the plaintiff, responded to the Emerald’s inquiries about the university’s response with the following statement:
“They need to just stop. This whole counterclaim was an ill-conceived PR move that has blown up on them. Since they are finding out that it looks bad to sue a rape victim, they are now saying that it was only intended for her lawyer. That is obviously not what the counterclaim says. We genuinely would like to help UO do a better job with responding to campus rape and would love to work together to achieve this, but their behavior so far is not encouraging.”
When asked about whether the petition would impact the university’s legal action, UO spokeswoman Julie Brown reitterated that the school “will not seek to recover court costs or attorney’s fees from the student.”
“We attribute to her attorneys the meritless claims based on completely inaccurate assertions, one of which was refuted in a declaration signed by one of their own witnesses,” she said in an e-mail.