St. Norbert Trustee Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Grad Over Handling of Sexual Assault Allegations


A defamation lawsuit filed by Reverend Jay Fostner, a trustee and former administrator of St. Norbert College, against a former student has been dismissed, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

St. Norbert Trustee Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Grad Over Handling of Sexual Assault Allegations

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Jhansen23)

Background of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit stemmed from allegations made by Margaret Uselman, a 2018 graduate of St. Norbert College, regarding the college's handling of sexual assault cases. Uselman accused Fostner of being dismissive of sexual assault allegations on campus and played a role in organizing efforts to investigate him. Fostner, who served as the vice president for mission and student affairs at the time, had his position eliminated in January 2020. However, in July 2021, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees by St. Norbert Abbey, the religious order that sponsors the college.

In late 2022, Fostner filed a defamation lawsuit against Uselman, claiming that her accusations had harmed his reputation. Fostner's legal counsel argued that the lawsuit was necessary to address what they viewed as unfounded and unfair attacks against their client. They also emphasized that Fostner was not responsible for investigating sexual misconduct cases at the college.

READ ALSO: Washington State Advances House Bill 2242 to Enhance Sexual Assault Resources on College Campuses

Dismissal of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial in September, but it was unexpectedly dismissed with prejudice. This means that the case cannot be brought to court again. While the specific reasons for the dismissal were not disclosed, court records indicated that both parties agreed to the dismissal.

The dismissal of the defamation lawsuit brings an end to a legal battle that had drawn attention to the handling of sexual assault allegations at St. Norbert College. It also highlights the complexities involved in addressing such sensitive issues within educational institutions.

Implications and Aftermath

With the lawsuit resolved, attention may now shift back to the broader conversation surrounding campus sexual assault and the policies and procedures in place to address it. The dismissal of the lawsuit does not necessarily signify an exoneration of either party but may reflect a desire to avoid further legal proceedings and the associated costs and uncertainties.

As St. Norbert College moves forward, it may continue to evaluate and refine its approach to handling sexual assault cases and supporting survivors. The outcome of this lawsuit could inform future decisions and initiatives aimed at promoting a safe and inclusive campus environment for all students, faculty, and staff.

RELATED ARTICLE: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Faculty DEI Statements at UC Santa Cruz

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