July 21, 2009
For Immediate Release
WKU Found to be Responsible in Rape and Murder of Student
Bowling Green, KY - More than six years after the rape and murder of Melissa Kaye "Katie" Autry, the Kentucky Board of Claims has affirmed a hearing officer's finding that WKU employees negligently allowed her assailant access to her dorm room. The Board of Claims 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 Board of Claims 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 died four days letter from the severe burn and inhalation injuries.
The Board of Claims is an agency of the state that decides certain cases involving the state or its agencies, such as WKU.
Ben Crocker, the attorney for the Estate of Katie Autry, was pleased with the result.
"The Board of Claims has now forced WKU to accept its role in Katie's death. Hopefully, Western will accept this decision as an opportunity to make the dorms safer."
For more information, you can contact Ben Crocker at (270)846-3100.