Monica Morrison ’07 and Rob Langrick Tu’06 reach settlement in defamation case following allegations of 2005 sexual assault

As part of the settlement, Morrison’s insurance company paid $175,000 to Langrick.

by Cassandra Thomas | 11/5/21 5:05am

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by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth Staff

In September, a settlement was reached in a defamation case between Monica Morrison ’07 and Rob Langrick Tu’06, stemming from Morrison’s allegations of sexual assault by Langrick during their time at Dartmouth. In reaching a settlement, Morrison’s insurance company, Liberty Mutual, paid Langrick $175,000, avoiding a trial by jury that was originally scheduled for Oct. 25. 

With the settlement, the roughly three-year-long legal battle concludes without a court convicting Morrison of any of the various charges brought against her. As the New Hampshire statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault committed against an adult is six years, it is also currently impossible for Morrison to litigate her claims. 

Langrick’s lawyer Shannon Timmann alleged in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth that Morrison used the sexual assault claims for “publicity’s sake … to build her personal brand.”

“It was a long process, but the end result was that all of Ms. Morrison’s claims were dismissed with prejudice, the Court granted partial summary judgment as to all of Mr. Langrick’s claims — while noting that ‘there is record evidence’ to ‘corroborate his version of events,’” Timmann wrote.

The accusations of defamation brought against Morrison by Langrick evolved from an alleged incident in May 2005 — when Morrison was a 19-year-old undergraduate and Langrick was a Tuck student. The two met at Bones Gate fraternity playing pong; both heavily intoxicated, Morrison invited Langrick back to her room at the Panarchy house.

Morrison and Langrick agree that she guided him to a social room outside of the “cupola,” where they kissed, according to court filings. From that point, the two moved into the cupola, where Morrison claimed that they had nonconsensual sex, as Morrison was too inebriated to provide consent. She also claims that after guiding Langrick to a couch to sleep, he moved to her bed and raped her while she was unconscious. Langrick denies any nonconsensual sex.

After meeting with a sexual assault peer advisor, Morrison reported the incident to the Hanover police department on May 27, 2005. Detective captain Frank Moran concluded that there was not enough evidence to support a sexual assault charge, according to court documents.

Morrison’s lawyer Henry Kaufman said that Moran’s decision in 2005 did not vindicate Langrick.

“… Moran confirmed [years later in court] that a refusal to prosecute did not mean that Langrick was exonerated,” Kaufman said.

After the alleged assault, Langrick continued with his studies at Tuck while Morrison took time away from school to recover, according to Kaufman. The case was buried for over a decade until 2016, when Morrison made new attempts to get in touch with Langrick — seeking “some kind of closure,” according to Kaufman. She did so by leaving a voicemail directly on Langrick’s personal phone, to which he never responded. In Langrick’s counterclaims, he asserted that Morrison, a freelance writer, claimed in the voicemail to be seeking a “press inquiry” for a story she was writing.

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law professor John Greabe explained that the phone call may have been a misstep on Morrison’s part.

“If you’re securing evidence through misrepresentation, you’re skating [on] ice because the law doesn’t look favorably on people being misled into saying something or doing something,” Greabe said.

Beginning in 2018 — at the same cultural moment as the #MeToo movement — Morrison became determined to make her story public, according to Diana Whitney ’95, cofounder of Dartmouth Community Against Gender Harassment and Sexual Violence. Whitney and Morrison met through DCGHSV to support the plaintiffs in a 2018 lawsuit against three former psychological and brain sciences professors

Whitney recounted that Morrison carefully weighed her decision to go public with Langrick’s name. According to Kaufman, Morrison found a renewed sense of determination to bring her case to light after she discovered that Langrick was visiting college campuses for work trips and felt that he might be a danger to other students.

In 2018, Morrison used various mediums to publicize her story online. Morrison created a Vimeo group entitled ‘rapist’ which contained a single video of Langrick giving a presentation for Bloomberg. Morrison also posted an anonymous “personal review” of Langrick on MyLife.com, alleging that Langrick “penetrat[ed] and attempt[ed] anal sex with an unconscious woman.” 

In November 2018, Morrison’s legal team motioned for a declaratory judgment, which, if successful, would have established that her calls to Bloomberg did not constitute defamation. On July 9, 2020, this motion was dismissed with prejudice — meaning that the only possibilities were to appeal to a higher judge or file different charges in a separate case.

In response to Morrison’s actions, Langrick made three counterclaims against Morrison for slander and libel. Later in 2018, he also demanded in a filing that Morrison enter into a broad non-disclosure agreement, according to Kaufman. Fearing that she would be required to recite Langrick’s version of events for the rest of her life — which stipulated his exoneration from the alleged sexual assault — Morrison refused to sign the NDA, according to Kaufman and Whitney. 

Whitney said that DCGHSV supported Morrison’s actions, hosting Morrison and Kaufman at Dartmouth in March 2020 to brainstorm about her case and provide emotional support.

In 2021, Morrison filed for a summary judgement in the defamation case — a motion to decide on a claim without moving to trial. Her summary judgement was denied. 

Greabe said that the denial was the result of the credibility of Langrick’s evidence.

“A denial of a motion … for summary judgment is a court saying: ‘Hey, there’s a reason to have a trial here because the jury thinks there’s evidence on both sides,’” Greabe said.

In September 2021, preceding the scheduled trial by jury on Oct. 25, the case was settled with a payment from Morrison’s insurance company to Langrick of $175,000, according to Langrick. Greabe explained that after a case moves past summary judgement, incentives to settle significantly increase because of the expenses and risk of trial by jury.

“For a jury trial in this case, it can be a crapshoot,” Greabe said. “People tend to minimize their risk, far more often than not, by agreeing to settle.”

In an emailed statement, Langrick expressed relief that this “draining” legal embroilment has drawn to a close. 

“Overall, I am glad that I did not allow these accusations to go uncontested and took the necessary legal actions to protect my good name,” Langrick wrote. “It helped to know that I had the truth on my side, and I feel greatly vindicated.”

Morrison did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

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