HUNTINGTON — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Marshall University that alleged the school's mishandling of a Title IX case forced a student to permanently leave the university.

U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia Judge Robert Chambers granted the university's motion for summary judgment Tuesday, according to court documents. The full order has not yet been released.

Alicia Gonzales filed the lawsuit against the Marshall University Board of Governors in January 2018.

In February 2016, Gonzales reported to the Marshall University Police Department that Joseph Chase Hardin, now 22, sexually assaulted her in her dorm room on campus, and as required by federal law, the university began an investigation.

The lawsuit alleges that the university's decision to allow Hardin to remain a student for months during a lengthy appeals process forced Gonzales to abandon her education at Marshall.

Hardin was indicted in Cabell County for sexual assault, but in 2017 he entered a Kennedy plea to misdemeanor battery. On Friday, Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Alfred Ferguson revoked Hardin's probation after he was indicted on four new charges of second-degree sexual assault.

In their motion for summary judgments, lawyers for Marshall state the suit should be dismissed because Gonzales could not show the university was deliberately indifferent, that the university's actions were clearly unreasonable in light of the circumstances known, or that she was subject to a hostile environment.

In her lawsuit, Gonzales alleges the university violated her rights under Title IX in various instances, including the time it took to reach a final decision in the matter.

In their response to Marshall's motion, her representatives state the way the university carried out the Title IX process was inequitable and showed deliberate indifference, favoring Hardin over Gonzales. The response also quotes a Title IX expert who said many of the university's policies were unheard of, such as tying the outcome of Hardin's criminal case to the Title IX decision.

Because they have not received the judge's order, Marshall reserved comment Friday, said communications director Leah Payne.

The Gonzales family is also awaiting the final order before deciding if they will proceed with an appeal.

Earlier this year, the university settled a different lawsuit that alleged it mishandled a sexual assault case.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.


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