Court to hold hearing for former student charged with assault

A preliminary hearing is scheduled June 12 in Van Nuys Superior Court for the male classmate who allegedly assaulted Elizabeth Barcay ’07 with a hammer in May 2007.
Rupert Ditsworth entered a plea of not guilty last December for one count of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records.

Barcay severely fractured her tibia and sustained head trauma and leg injuries. She is now walking normally with some pain. Immediately after the incident, Barcay relied on a wheelchair to attend both prom and her Cum Laude induction ceremony. She was able to receive her diploma at graduation using crutches.

Throughout the summer, Barcay couldn’t leave her leg below the level of her heart for prolonged periods of time.

When the family traveled, Barcay would ice it and elevate it to heart level for several hours. A year has now elapsed since the assault, and Barcay has only just started walking normally because of the severity of the fracture.

“She had a very bad fracture with multiple small pieces that needed to be screwed together,” Dr. Barbara Hayden, her mother, said. “She also had fat tissue injuries, so even though she did not break both legs, he did inflict a lot of damage.”
Even though Barcay can now walk normally, the pain lingers and her ability to pursue athletic activities has been curtailed.

Barcay was on the swim team at Harvard-Westlake, but at Williams College, where she just completed her freshman year, Barcay was unable to participate in athletics.
“It really cut back on a lot of her activities,” Hayden said. “Williams gets cold and icy and so she really couldn’t afford to slip and fall. That would have been disastrous, so we really advised against her doing something that could lead to further instability in the leg.”

Despite the limitations and the residual pain, Barcay was determined to “retake her own life,” Hayden said.

“Her comment to me after she was injured was that she was not about to let Rupert take one more thing from her,” Hayden said. “But the reality is he did take a lot of things from her – pain, discomfort during her first year of college.”
Gauging the psychological effects of a violent attack can be difficult, even after a year, Hayden said.

“As these things are, it’s often hard to see the effects of this type of violent attack,” Hayden said. “It causes physical restrictions but also things like having second thoughts, distrusting, second-guessing or being uncomfortable in situations where you would otherwise have been comfortable.”

—Additional reporting by Michael Kaplan