Attorney Believes Relationship Context Will Clear Alleged Sexual Assault on Dowling Campus

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A woman claims the Dowling Catholic High School parking lot was a place of terror in August of 2017.

A lawsuit claims she was sexually assaulted by a man who had just graduated from the school. The alleged assault happened after a school-sponsored event at the chapel. The documents name the accused man, the school, a teacher and counselor as defendants.

"Obviously difficult to have these allegations brought against him or anyone," said Elisabeth Archer, an associate attorney at the Weinhardt Law Firm, who represents the accused man.  She says her client and the woman were not strangers.  "There was certainly a relationship between the two individuals involved," said Archer.

The woman claims her attacker, whose parents were both school employees, forcibly kissed her.  She allegedly tried to push him away and loudly screamed "No," but she claims the man stuck his hands down her pants and attempted to force her head toward his crotch for oral sex.

"We believe there is a vast amount of context that needs to be understood here about the relationship between the two young people involved in order to truly know what happened," Archer said.

The woman claims Dowling failed to provide adequate security, failed to investigate her claims and violated her privacy.  She claims her father asked the principal if the situation would have been handled differently if the accused graduate's parents were not school employees. The defendant allegedly responded yes, "because the parents were his colleagues, he felt he owed them a professional courtesy to inform them of the plaintiff's allegations."

Dowling released a statement that said:

"Dowling Catholic High School is committed to developing leaders for life, centered on Christ.  An important priority is to create a safe and trusted environment for all of our students. while we cannot comment on any pending litigation, we can assure you our faculty and staff are well trained to follow a specific process if a student reports an incident."

The woman claims she was diagnosed with PTSD after the alleged assault and had to go on temporary leave from the school for counseling. The man accused has never faced charges.

Archer said, "Our client is just adamantly denying any sexual assault occurred here or any other unlawful act against the plaintiff and is looking forward to responding to the allegations in court."

A temporary no-contact order between the plaintiff and alleged assaulter is in place.  A hearing is scheduled for next month.

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