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Key Events in the Carpenter Case

Fall 2000–
IAP 2001
Charvak P. Karpe G allegedly persists in pursuing a romantic relationship with Julia M. Carpenter ’03 despite the fact that Carpenter has a boyfriend. Karpe’s persistent attentions allegedly turn into threats and intrusions on Carpenter’s privacy.
January 2001 Carpenter files a complaint with the Random Hall Judicial Committee at the end of January. JudComm tries the case throughout February, but fails to reach a decision. The case is deferred to the Office of Student Life, where Senior Associate Dean for Students Robert M. Randolph moves the offending student to East Campus and appoints an administrative panel to review the evidence and testimony.
Feb. 2001 “Please help me prevent another MIT student suicide,” Dr. Josephson writes to Randolph after Carpenter learned orally that the Random Hall Judicial Committee planned on allowing Karpe to remain in Random and talked with Dr. Josephson. “Throughout Julie’s telling of the tale, it was clear that she felt the committee had spoken, and that she had no other recourse but to move out of Random to escape, or to escape through death.”
April 2001 An MIT administrative review panel is held, overseen by Assistant Dean Carol Orme-Johnson. Karpe does not dispute the allegations against him. The contents of that panel’s decision are a subject of dispute, but several people who have read it said that it indicated that Karpe, who had been provisionally removed from Random Hall, would be allowed to return.
April 20, 2001 The administrative panel releases a decision including a provision for Karpe to move back into Random Hall.
April 25, 2001 Carpenter picks up a copy of the panel’s decision left in an unattended room and signs for it, according to the lawsuit. “No one from MIT spoke with Julie concerning the contents of the decision or monitored her reaction to it,” the lawsuit later says. Carpenter also uses her laptop to purchase sodium cyanide by mail-order over the Internet.
April 27, 2001 By Friday, Carpenter has received the cyanide. That weekend she goes to a barbeque at the Connecticut home of her friend Kristin Josephson and chats about returning to visit the Josephsons in June. Carpenter “seemed happy and did not give us any sign that she had planned on taking her life,” Josephson’s mother, Dr. Lynn Josephson, later told The Chronicle of Higher Education.
April 29, 2001 After returning to MIT, Carpenter goes to a birthday party and eats chocolate-chip cookies on the Random Hall roof deck before returning to her room, where she ingests the cyanide.
April 30, 2001 Carpenter is found dead in her room early in the morning by her roommate. There is no suicide note, though her death is later ruled a suicide by the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.
May 14, 2001 A memorial service for Carpenter is held in the Chapel.
June 2001 “Immediately after Julie’s death, your son Zev told Dean Randolph that he had known a few days before she died that she had bought cyanide,” President Charles M. Vest writes in a letter to Kenneth E. Arnold, the father of Zev Arnold, Carpenter’s boyfriend. “When Dean Randolph asked him why he had not warned anyone at MIT that she had done so, Zev said he thought she would not actually use the cyanide to commit suicide.”
Aug. 31, 2001 Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict announces that Kathleen C. Wallace, associate dean for judicial affairs at Duke University, will conduct a review of MIT’s actions.
June 4, 2003 The parents of Julia Carpenter file a lawsuit in the Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, seeking damages of more than $20 million, charging that MIT, Vest, Randolph, Benedict, Orme-Johnson, Random Housemaster Nina Davis-Millis, and Karpe were negligent in failing to prevent Carpenter’s suicide. The suit also charges MIT with breach of contract, by failing to uphold its obligation, paid for by Carpenter’s tuition, to insulate Carpenter from harassers, and charges Karpe with assault and battery leading to her death
Sept. 1, 2006 The Suffolk Superior Court is notified that MIT and the Carpenters have reached a settlement in the case, which will not go to trial. No details of the settlement were released to the public. Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 releases a message which includes a joint statement from all parties involved notifying the MIT community of the settlement.

Compiled by Marissa Vogt