Landlord faces lawsuit after UND student rape case

Published: Dec. 14, 2017 at 5:07 PM CST
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Two UND students were raped at gun point, the rapist locked away years ago. Now a new lawsuit saying the apartment owner is to blame for not having a safe, secure apartment units.

"Nadia and Breanne are seeking justice for themselves. But, they're also wanting to make sure other college students are safe," said Elizabeth Fors one of the attorneys representing Nadia and Breanne.

Back in the fall of 2013, Antonio Matthews ripped open a ground floor apartment door.

"In mere seconds, without using any tools, and raped these two women at gun point," said Tim Purdon another lawyer on the case.

How easy was it to get passed a locked door?

Police footage used as evidence in the case show an officer forcing his way through the locked door with relative ease.

They locked Matthews up. Now the landlords is facing lawsuit because of inadequate security.

"North Dakota law the landlord has a duty to provide a safe place for folks to live and that includes having functioning locks. The locks in this case are useless," Purdon said.

Valley News Live investigated the scene of the crime to see how secure it is today.

"I feel safe here," said Shayna Phelps who lives on third floor where the break-in happened years ago.

However, her room as one security measure Nadia and Breanne's lawyers said they didn't have.

"I noticed in our apartment we do have a little stick to put in the door," Phelps said.

Phelps said that stick, meant to block the sliding glass door was there when they moved in.

"These two women Nadia and Breanne, they've dealt with this every day of their lives," Fors said.

The lawsuit is seeking $50,000 for each victim.

"The corporate landlord in this case chose profit over the safety of these two young students," Fors said.

The landlord at the time was CGV LLP. The owner, Robert Cowger declined to comment.