9/21/18 Lance Duerfahrd file photo

Lance Duerfahrd

A former Purdue professor is appealing the decision of a federal judge to allow a former student to proceed unnamed in a lawsuit against him.

In a recently filed appeal, Lance Duerfahrd, a former Purdue associate English professor and director of the Film and Video Studies Program, and his attorneys argue that allowing the plaintiff to remain anonymous will hurt his chances to defend himself and give her side of the story more merit if it were to reach a jury.

Besides, he argues, the former student's attorneys sought media coverage and have called for other potential victims to come forward on the law firm's Facebook page. The document says at least one other alleged victim has responded to that appeal.

Yet Duerfahrd won't be able to seek other potential witnesses or records to defend himself if he cannot use her name, he argues in court documents. 

Duerfahrd alleges the former student, then a sophomore, sought him out in 2016 and flattered him, later seeking special treatment.

"Plaintiff wrote Duerfahrd hundreds of messages, including things like, 'Try not to think too much about me' followed by a smiley faced emoji, and the night after the alleged assault, 'I miss you. Come back soon,'" the appeal documents say. "'Plaintiff also suggested that if she saw Duerfahrd, she would be unable to 'keep (her)self in check,' claiming 'I feel that we will f*** if I meet you tonight.' That never happened, and when Plaintiff did not receive the special treatment she felt entitled to for all this flirtation, she filed a Title IX complaint with Purdue that ended with Duerfahrd's resignation."

The lawsuit was filed in September on behalf of Jane Doe, alleging sexual assault and battery and infliction of emotional distress against Duerfahrd and accusing Purdue of not terminating the professor when it knew of allegations against him. Both Duerfahrd and Purdue have denied the allegations.

A judge approved the plaintiff's request to remain anonymous in April, after she claimed emotional issues and greater hardship if her identity were revealed.

But is is rare for plaintiffs in civil lawsuits to remain anonymous, and Duerfahrd's appeal asks the decision to be reversed. Failing that, the appeal asks that the young woman and her attorneys be barred from making any other public statements about the case, removing such references on the firm's website and Facebook page; allow Duerfahrd to reveal the plaintiff's identity while seeking witnesses and documents in the case and conducting depositions; and that the plaintiff should not remain anonymous should the case proceed to trial.

"There can be no fundamental fairness in a proceeding in which Plaintiff receive court-sanctioned anonymity," the appeal reads, "while simultaneously publicly attacking Duerfahrd's credibility and reputation."

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