Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer waves to the crowd after the team's 4-1 win over UCLA in a semifinal of the NCAA Division I women's soccer tournament in 2019.
The heartbroken parents of Stanford star goalie Katie Meyer have filed a wrongful death suit against the university and officials over her suicide, according to Sports Illustrated and USA Today, which obtained copies of the suit.
Meyer, 22, was facing a formal disciplinary charge at the time for allegedly spilling coffee on an unidentified Stanford football player who had been accused of sexually assaulting another female soccer player. Meyer’s father had previously said that the teammate was a minor at the time, and his daughter was defending her.
The football player faced no “real consequence” for the accusation against him, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, reportedly states that the night Meyer died in February, Stanford “negligently” and “recklessly” sent her the formal disciplinary notice in a lengthy letter that “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and potential ‘removal from the university.’”
Meyer, who was a senior and captain of her team, received the letter after 7 p.m., when Stanford’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services was closed, according to the complaint.
She was found dead in her dorm room the following morning. Her death was determined to be self inflicted, according to an autopsy.
“Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charge, and the reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie, caused Katie to suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,″ the lawsuit states.
“Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply distressing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources,” the complaint adds.
“Katie, sitting alone in her dorm room, when it was dark outside, immediately responded to the email expressing how ‘shocked and distraught’ she was over being charged and threatened with removal from the university,’’ the complaint reads.
“Stanford failed to respond to Katie’s expression of distress, instead ignored it and scheduled a meeting for 3 days later via email,” according to the complaint. “Stanford employees made no effort whatsoever to check on Katie’s well-being, either by a simple phone call or in-person welfare check.’’
Stanford spokesperson Dee Mostofi dismissed the lawsuit’s claims.
“The Stanford community continues to grieve Katie’s tragic death and we sympathize with her family for the unimaginable pain that Katie’s passing has caused them,” Mostofi said in a statement to CNN.
“However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not yet seen the formal complaint brought by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the filing, which are false and misleading,” Mostofi added.
Mostofi also said that the disciplinary letter which the university sent to Meyer included “a number to call for immediate support and [she] was specifically told that this resource was available to her 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The Meyer family’s attorney Kim Dougherty said in a statement to Sports Illustrated that Stanford has “known for years that its disciplinary process, in its own Committee 10’s words, is ‘overly punitive’ and harmful to its students, yet the school and its administrators have done nothing to correct its procedures.”
Through “this litigation we will not only obtain justice for Katie, but also ensure necessary change is put into place to help protect Stanford students and provide safeguards when students are in need of support,” Dougherty added.
Meyer was a senior majoring in international relations at the time of her death, and was awaiting acceptance into Stanford’s law school. She made two key saves in a penalty shootout to help Stanford win the national championship in 2019.
The formal disciplinary charge placed her diploma on hold three months before her scheduled graduation. It threatened her continuing status as a Stanford student, as well as her position as captain and member of the soccer team.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.