Settlement Reached in Frat-House Rape Case

William Paterson University to pay $800,000 to mom of alleged victim, who later hanged herself.

This is a follow-up to our March 2018 story, “Sexual Assault on Campus: a Special Report


The mother of Cherelle Jovanna Locklear, the William Paterson University freshman who hanged herself in 2015 after she was allegedly raped during a party at the school’s Sigma Pi fraternity house, may never experience the kind of closure that comes with the peaceful acceptance of a loved one’s death. But this week, the law firm representing Marquesa C. Jackson-Locklear in her case against the fraternity and the university arrived at a settlement for the grieving mother.

Bradley Rice, of the Roseland law firm Nagel Rice LLP and a lead attorney in the case, says the university, located in Wayne, will pay $800,000 and install a memorial on campus for Locklear; terms of the settlement with the fraternity are confidential.

“I don’t want to speak for her, but I think she’s ready to move on,” Rice says of Jackson-Locklear.

In September 2015, Cherelle Locklear attended an off-campus party where the alleged rape occurred. A month later, after attempting suicide with sleeping pills, she sought help from the university’s victim-services coordinator. The following month, the 21-year-old hanged herself with a necktie in a dorm bathroom.

Rice’s firm contends there may have been an environment at William Paterson that led Locklear to believe it was better to keep quiet. Despite knowledge of the alleged rape, university officials and police “did not engage in even a modicum or the investigation required by law, and took no steps evidencing any concern for Cherelle’s personal security and safety,” the suit alleged. The university, in a statement after the settlement, denied any wrongdoing or liability.

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Politics & Public Affairs articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown