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U. of Oregon Settles With Whistle-Blowers Who Protested Handling of Student’s Therapy Records

A lawsuit against the University of Oregon by two former employees, who said the institution had viewed an alleged rape victim’s therapy records without her consent, was settled on Sunday, The Oregonian reported on Monday.

Jennifer Morlok and Karen Stokes, who worked in the university’s counseling center, will be paid a total of $425,000 under the settlement agreement.

Ms. Morlok and Ms. Stokes said in their lawsuit that co-workers had retaliated against them after they protested the university’s actions. In a February 2015 letter, they accused the university of turning over the student’s therapy records to its general counsel’s office in anticipation of a lawsuit by the student. The accusation prompted a national debate over the protection of students’ privacy.

The student whose records were viewed had accused three university basketball players of raping her at a March 2014 party. The woman anonymously sued the university and its head basketball coach in January 2015 over the handling of her assault complaint, and she settled the lawsuit for $800,000 in August 2015.

Ms. Morlok, who was a senior staff therapist, resigned in October 2015. Ms. Stokes was an executive assistant in the counseling center and other offices until June 2016, The Oregonian reported. In March 2015 the university disputed her claims that she had been fired.

Tobin Klinger, a university spokesman, said in a written statement that the settlement “is not an admission of liability by the University of Oregon, or the four employees named in this suit, but it does allow all parties to move forward and avoid years of expensive litigation. The UO remains committed to providing a supportive work environment for all employees.”

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