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Van de Velde settles suit over unsolved Jovin murder (updated)

A former Yale faculty member who was publicly named as a suspect—but never charged—in the 1998 murder of his student has settled his last remaining legal claims against the university and New Haven police.

The murder of Suzanne Jovin ’99, who was stabbed 17 times and found dead in the East Rock neighborhood in December 1998, has never been solved. Early in the investigation, police focused on James Van de Velde ’82, then a Yale political science lecturer and Jovin's senior essay advisor. With Van de Velde under scrutiny, Yale canceled his spring classes and issued a statement saying he was among a "pool of suspects," the rest of whom were never named.

Van de Velde sued the city of New Haven in 2001 and later added several top Yale officials as defendants, claiming civil rights violations and damage to his career, health, and reputation. The federal claims were dismissed years ago.

Today, Van de Velde announced that he has settled the last two claims under state law.

"Yale and the city’s actions were enormously damaging to my professional life and took a comparable emotional toll," he says in an e-mail. "I intend now to move forward in my career as a consultant to the US Intelligence Community, a lecturer in security studies at Johns Hopkins University, return to the US Naval Intelligence Reserves, and now also serve as a spokesman for the wrongly accused and publicly labeled."

In a statement confirming the settlement, a university spokewoman writes: "Yale will continue to cooperate in every way it can with the state's ongoing investigation of Ms. Jovin’s tragic death, and nothing in the settlement of Mr. Van de Velde's civil lawsuit precludes further criminal investigation by the authorities. But continuing the civil litigation for several more years would serve little purpose at this point, and it would demand further time, energy, and cost with no corresponding benefit.  For this reason, Yale has chosen to reach a simple, negotiated settlement to resolve the litigation."  

UPDATE: Robert Rhodes, an attorney for the city of New Haven, echoes the notion that the settlement is "for the mutual benefit of all the parties," saving time and expense. He declines to say how much financial compensation Van de Velde will receive.

Filed under Suzanne Jovin, James Van de Velde, crime
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