University of Miami

University of Miami sued after reportedly telling victim to ‘avoid’ rapist on campus and failing to offer assistance

A rape victim is suing the University of Miami, claiming she told the college officials she was raped, but the school did nothing when she asked for assistance.

In a lawsuit filed September 15, the student, identified as Jane Doe, sued the school for violating Title IX and the Rehabilitation Act, according to a report by the Miami New Times. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender or sex in any educational program, and also sets guidelines for handling assault complaints. The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability. The student claimed the assault caused her to develop severe anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The victim said the assault happened on August 23, 2o13, at an off-campus apartment complex for UM students. She had recently started dating her rapist, who she met through the Hindu Student Council.

She claimed her rapist started stalking her after the assault. The two met at a frat party in September 2013, and the victim said the rapist became outraged at her, saying she was the reason he wasn’t accepted into a fraternity, and that she forced him to “hurt himself.” The rapist then allegedly left her threatening voicemails and even banged on a friend’s dorm room door demanding to see her.

The victim first reported the incident to the RA program supervisor of the dorm, where her rapist was a resident adviser (RA). The supervisor allegedly said he would speak with the reported rapist, but did nothing, according to the victim, and failed to inform her of her Title IX rights.

The victim then reported the rape to then-Dean William A. “Tony” Lake on September 16, 2013. She claimed Lake, too, failed to inform her of her Title IX rights and didn’t properly investigate her claims. She said that Lake did order the rapist not to have any contact with the victim, but she alleged she was denied the right to drop out of any of her classes to deal with the trauma of the assault. The university also allegedly refused to inform her professors of the ordeal.

That same day, the victim went to the Coral Gables Police to report the stalking.

“She provided testimony and documentary evidence to the police, such as Facebook messages and text messages,” the lawsuit stated. “The police began investigating the case and informed Plaintiff of various resources available to her. They expressed concern that the University had not informed Plaintiff of her option to make a police report.”

When the suspect allegedly started harassing her again just two weeks later, Lake reportedly told the victim that the university could not enforce the no-contact order and advised that she “avoid those situations” where she might run into the rapist.

The victim said she was harassed 9 to 10 more times between September and December 2013; she claimed she each case to Lake.

The lawsuit alleged that in October 2013, Lake suggested that the victim wasn’t raped in the first place.

“During this meeting, Dean Lake suggested to Plaintiff that perhaps Assailant had inserted his fingers and not his penis into Plaintiff’s vagina, and that this was not rape. He told Plaintiff that she should ‘feel bad’ for Assailant because he did not have many friends and that Assailant may not have meant to be violent toward her during the September 13, 2013 fraternity party. He suggested that Plaintiff withdraw the rape allegations since the Assailant would likely be punished regardless. Instead of investigating Plaintiff’s allegations, Dean Lake attempted to sweep them under the rug.”

That same month, she told Lake her rapist was harassing other freshman, but the dean supposedly told her those women would need to “figure out for themselves” whether or not he was dangerous.

The victim said she was stalked several times in December 2013. She said she emailed Lake saying she was “fearing for [her] safety,” but the dean didn’t respond for several days.

A three-person board found the rapist guilty of “sexual assault and battery, intimate partner/dating violence, underage drinking, physical assault, and sexual harassment” on December 10, 2013, but he was allowed to stay on campus. He was finally expelled six days later when the victim obtained an emergency restraining order against him.

He was arrested the next day on stalking charges, and pleaded guilty the following spring.

After the suspect left campus, the victim continued to have problems dealing with the trauma. She said she asked her professors for help multiple times, but was denied it until she attempted suicide in January 2014. She was admitted to a medical clinic in Texas and was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder.

The victim graduated in May 2015 with a degree in microbiology and immunology. She blamed the school, however, for her 3.5 GPA, which she said dropped from a 3.8 after the assault.

“Currently a law student at the University of Houston, Plaintiff is in the process of applying to medical school and is determined to fix her GPA to reflect the caliber of student she was before the rape, and the accurate scholastic marks she would have had without the continued threats to her safety and the University’s deliberate indifference toward her being raped and stalked,” the lawsuit read.

[Feature Photo:Twitter]