Sued Over Alleged Drag Ball Rape
by Liz White
Jan. 9, 2002, a court action was filed against Oberlin College by
an employee using the pseudonym Jane Doe at Lorain County Common
Pleas Court. The action, which was filed as a complaint for over
$25,000 and demands a trial by jury, is in reference to an alleged
rape that occurred last year outside Drag Ball and claims that Oberlin
College was negligent in employing and maintaining as a police
and security officer a known sexual predator, namely Quinn Barbee.
The case is predicted on Does claim that last April 14, Barbee,
while working as a security guard for the nights campus event,
brutally attacked and raped plaintiff causing her severe physical
and emotional injury.
The College believes the lawsuit has no basis. The case is
totally, positively without merit, Vice President of College
Relations Alan Moran said. Jim Niehaus, the attorney responsible
for handling the case on behalf of the College, revealed that the
college first received a letter of intent to sue from the victims
attorney in the summer of 2001. After investigating the claims,
he concluded that there was no basis for a case and invited the
victims lawyer to share any new evidence. Niehaus did not
hear any more about the case until the court action was filed. There
is absolutely no factual basis whatsoever to the allegation that
anyone involved in this case is a sexual predator, he said.
The alleged rape referrred to in the lawsuit took place at approximately
10:30 p.m. on April 14, 2001 during the Colleges largest annual
event, Drag Ball. Barbee was an on-duty security officer at the
event when the incident occurred in the parking lot of Wilder Hall.
The victim, who remains an employee of the college, filed an official
complaint with the Oberlin Police Department who then escorted the
victim to the Nord Rape Crisis Center. No charges were brought against
the alleged rapist. After investigating the incident, Oberlin Police
sent the case to Lorain County Grand Jury Prosecutor, Greg White,
who dismissed the case because of insufficient evidence.
The Office of Safety and Security was notified by Oberlin Police
of the reported rape, prompting the office to immediately
put him on suspension, said Safety and Security Director Robert
Jones. After conducting an investigation, Safety and Security referred
the matter over to Human Resources.
According to the Morning Journal, Quinn Barbee was terminated
after an internal investigation regarding his job performance, which
was not connected to the rape allegation Dean of Students
Peter Goldsmith said. He was accused of behavior unbeffiting a security
officerfor having sexual contact with the victim, and was consequently
fired independent of the rape allegation.
The city police immediately notified the Colleges director
of security that the suspect was a college security officer. This
officer was relieved of his duties immediately. After an internal
investigation, the director of security terminated the officer in
question, and also issued a no trespass order which
bars him permanently from this campus, President Nancy Dye
said in a letter to the editor of the Oberlin Review dated May 10,
2001. At no time does the letter mention that the investigation
was not connected to the alleged rape.
The no trespass order mentioned by President Dye is
not usual practice for the college when terminating a position because
a policy or practice of the college has been violated,
Director of Human Resources Ruth Spencer said. Its a
case-by-case decision. General Policy mandates that if
there is a real possibility of harm to an employee the college may
choose to place someone on the no-trespass list, Spencer said.
Because of a percieved threat by the victim, Barbee was banned from
the college campus.
The colleges Sexual Assault Policy normally requires a complaint
of sexual assault to be brought to the Administrator and a Formal
Panel hearing. In this case, however, because the victim did not
file a complaint with the Administrators office and because
the college had already fired Barbee for a breach of college policy,
the Sexual Assault Policy was not enacted.
The implication of hiring negligence raised by the suit is fiercly
disputed by the college. The college administers background checks
to any potential employee who will either live with students or
will have access to significant assests of the college. This
includes security officers, said Spencer. The checks include
criminal records, previous employent, and references.
Quinn Barbee currently works as a prison guard for the Grafton Correctional
Institute. He is also assistant football coach and head junior varsity
girls basketball coach at Oberlin High School. According to
Jones, prior to the Drag Ball incident, Barbee had a good
work record. Captain Tom Miller of the Oberlin Police said
Barbee did not have an arrest record in Oberlin.
A Quincy Ramon Barbee of Lorain was convicted of burglary, a felony,
in 1996, in a case brought against him by the state of Ohio.
Although the Presidents Office of Oberlin College was served
a copy of the complaint on Jan. 17 via registered mail, due to a
filing mix-up that office was only made aware of the suit on Thursday,
Feb. 14. The colleges attorney, however, was aware of the
suit and handling it as necessary.