June 8, 2009
For Immediate Release
WKU Found to be Responsible in Rape and Murder of Student
Bowling Green, KY - Six years after the rape and murder of Melissa Kaye "Katie" Autry, a state hearing officer has found that WKU employees negligently allowed her assailant access to her dorm room. The hearing officer awarded her estate the maximum amount allowed in the Board of Claims, $200,000.
On May 4, 2003, Stephen Soules assaulted, raped, and murdered Katie Autry in her Poland Hall dorm room. The hearing officer found that WKU breached its duties to her by failing to follow established security procedures. WKU failed to lock the Poland Hall front door, failed to monitor the lobby, and failed to require the assailant to sign the desk registry. Because of these breaches, Soules was able to access Katie Autry's room, assault her, rape her, and set her on fire. She dies four days letter from the severe burn and inhalation injuries.
Ben Crocker, the attorney for the Estate of Katie Autry, was pleased with the result. "Today, WKU is held accountable for the mistakes it made that lead to Katie's death. We hope that Western will take this opportunity to make its dorms safer for all Western Students."
For more information, you can contact Ben Crocker at (270)846-3100.