Although allegations of rape are still too often ignored, there are laws and college procedures in place to protect students (both the alleged victim and the alleged rapist), even when colleges and universities fail to take action. Victims of sexual harassment and assault can file a complaint under Title IX, a federal law that forbids schools from giving preference to certain students over others based on gender.
According to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Stanford University had more cases of sexual harassment and assault open for review than any other American University. And that was before Stanford made headlines when its student, Brock Turner, was convicted of sexual assault and given a sentence lenient enough to incite heated controversy.
Now the prestigious school is facing another lawsuit filed by Equal Rights Advocates, a California-based nonprofit, and two law firms filing on behalf of one of the alleged victims.
The lawsuit alleges the prestigious university repeatedly failed to properly respond to complaints brought by three different victims over a period of three years of an alleged sexual predator on campus.
The lawsuit refers to the perpetrator only as “Mr. X,” and to the victims as “Ms. A,” “Ms. B,” and “Jane Doe.”
The lawsuit alleges Ms. A was involved in an abusive relationship with Mr. X, and when she tried to end it, he came to her dorm room, where he physically attacked and raped her. After Ms. A alerted the school, they allegedly did nothing to protect her or punish Mr. X. A campus counselor allegedly implied Ms. A had been the one at fault, and other school officials allegedly told her it would be hard to pursue legal action against Mr. X.
Two years later, two other undergraduate students reported having suffered sexual harassment and assault from Mr. X. The school promised to investigate the reports, and during the impending investigation, Mr. X was allowed to finish out the semester and walk at graduation. It wasn’t until after graduation that the results of the investigation were released. The school found him guilty of sexual misconduct and banned him from campus for ten years.
While the alleged sexual predator was able to graduate and move on to some degree with his life, even after the investigation found him at fault, all three of his victims reported struggling with their classes after they were attacked, and two of them took a leave of absence. Jane Doe was even placed on academic probation, as if she were the one who had done something wrong.
The lawsuit against Stanford is alleging the University violated Title IX and continued to subject those who had already suffered from sexual abuse to a hostile environment, which resulted in both economic and emotional distress for them.
After the suit was filed, Stanford released a statement claiming they were sympathetic to students who suffered from sexual assault and that they had no tolerance for such attacks.
But the lawsuit alleges just the opposite and now it will be up to a federal court to determine whether Stanford acted as a true advocate for all its students.
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