Harvard Meets Court Deadline To Answer Rape Case Charges

Harvard yesterday met a court-ordered deadline for answering pre-trial questions in the case of a former tenant who claims she was raped because the University failed to take adequate security precautions in her building, sources said.

The tenant, who was raped two years ago in Harvard's Craigie Arms apartment building on Mt. Auburn St., is seeking $1.2 millions in damages from the University in a civil suit filed in Middlesex Superior Court.

The pre-trial questions, which sources said are central to the former tenant's case, were presented to Harvard attorneys last spring But the University had reportedly missed several previous deadlines and refused to respond until yesterday's final deadline.

Jeffrey Petrucelli, an attorney for the former tenant--Carol Trowbridge of Cambridge--said yesterday. "Harvard has informed me that they will be answering today."

Petrucelli had said earlier that his client's suit was "progressing slowly because of the defendant's [Harvard's] failure to respond promptly"


Petrucelli said yesterday that if Harvard had not met the deadline, he would have asked the Court to declare the University in default.

Court records in Trowbridge's case have been kept private: since this summer, when a Middlesex County judge granted her request that the documents be sealed to protect her privacy. Harvard assented to that request.

An attorney representing Harvard in the case said this week he would have no comment. Trowbridge "doesn't want this case publicised and I'll respect that," said Thomas Porter, of the Boston law firm of Parker, Coulter. Duley and Whine.

Trowbridge claims she was raped because a faulty intercom system in her apartment forced her to go into the hallway to one who was buzzing the doorbell. When she opened the door, she was grabbed. Trowbridge charges.

Harvard's response to the suit, filed with court officials in the fall of 1981, states that if Harvard "was negligent as alleged, the plaintiff [Trowbridge] was negligent to a greater degree."

In addition to being the site of Trowbridge's rape, the Craigie Arms building across from the Mt. Auburn street post office has been the focus of a bitter, two-year dispute between tenants and the University over Harvard's plans for converting the 60-unit complex to montly luxury housing.

The Cambridge Rent Control Board is scheduled to decide later this month whether to allow Harvard to proceed with its multimillion dollar conversion plans.

Trowbridge's civil suit against Harvard is not expected to be resolved for at least another year