ABU found partially liable in civil case

PHILIPPI — Alderson Broaddus University and a former women’s basketball coach have each been found partially liable in a law suit after hidden cameras were allegedly discovered in a residence hall restroom.

A six-person jury decided former coach Collins Murphy to be 70 percent liable but also placed 30 percent of the blame on the institution.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs — Kristin Burnside, of Doddridge County; Cayla Rhodes, of Fayette County; Emily Sarver, of Cabell County; and Erica Brooks, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania — $800,000 in restitution.

Following the outcome late Tuesday, Alderson Broaddus University officials released a statement about safety being a priority at the school.

“ABU’s top priority has always been and continues to be the safety and well-being of our students and campus family. Collins B. Murphy is not a current employee of ABU,” the statement reads. “Mr. Murphy hasn’t worked at ABU since May 2012, and ABU did not become aware of the photographs until September 2014. Since that time we have cooperated fully with law enforcement officials as they conducted their investigation.

“We thank the jurors and the court officials for their dedication they demonstrated throughout the court proceedings. While we respect the jury’s decision, we believed that the entire responsibility for this unfortunate set of circumstances should lie with Mr. Murphy,” the statement continued. “Therefore, we will evaluate our legal options with counsel in the coming days. Until that evaluation is complete, we will have no further statements.”

The suit stated that Burnside, a former member of the Alderson Broaddus women’s basketball team, alleges that on Sept. 17, 2014, she located a hidden camera device in the restroom of the dorm during her time as a resident there.

The lawsuit indicated the camera device was “used to capture photographs of (Burnside) and her roommates while using the restroom and shower, all of which showed (Burnside) and her roommates fully nude.”

Burnside was made aware of the camera and photographs when an individual forwarded messages to her cellular phone containing the photographs, the suit states.

On Sept. 25, 2014, Rhodes claims she discovered someone had hidden a camera device in the restroom after receiving photographs from another male student. On the same day, Brooks and Sarver were made aware of the photographs after a teammate told them they were forwarded the photos. Rhodes, Brooks and Sarver were also members of the women’s basketball team.

On Oct. 18, 2014, Murphy confessed to placing the camera and taking photographs to officers with the Philippi Police Department, the suit indicates.

Count one of the suit from each of the four plaintiffs is for “invasion of privacy; intrusion upon seclusion,” and states that Murphy, in his capacity as a resident director, was “given access to the plaintiff’s dorm including, but not limited to, her residence and private restroom.” It further alleges he captured pictures of the plaintiff’s and their roommates while they were “fully nude,” which was intrusion that was “highly offensive to a reasonable person.”

In the second count of the suit, the plaintiffs allege “invasion of privacy; unreasonable publicity,” and claim Murphy “publicized the nude photographs” which were “illegally obtained” by the camera placed by Murphy.

Count three alleges “intentional infliction of emotional distress or tort of outrage,” and claims Murphy’s conduct was “atrocious, intolerable, and so extreme and outrages as to exceed the bounds of decency.”

The lawsuit also claims that Alderson Broaddus College “failed to investigate or adequately investigate the history of Murphy,” and should have known Murphy’s “unfitness prior to the occurrences set forth (in the lawsuit) or during the course of his employment.”