University of Connecticut Sued Over Sexual Assault Case Handling

Seven former and current University of Connecticut students have filed a suit against the school, claiming that it provided inadequate security against sexual assaults on campus. Four of the women spoke publicly Monday at a news conference in Hartford. Big-name attorney Gloria Allred is handling the case. She filed the suit with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. If UConn is found in violation of Title IX, it could fines or loss of federal funding.

One 2013 graduate, Kylie Angell, claims that after she reported a sexual assault, an officer told her, "Women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter or rape is going to keep happening until the cows come home." Angell also says she was told that expulsion for the alleged attacker was "too severe."

Angell says the school held a hearing, and she was informed that her alleged perpetrator would be expelled. But when she saw him two weeks later in a school dining hall, he sat down next to her "threateningly" and his friend heckled her, she says.

Fifth-year student Carolyn Luby is the lead plaintiff in the case. In April, she wrote a letter to UConn President Susan Herbst, which quickly went viral. Luby wrote against the rebranding of the Huskies logo to be "more powerful and aggressive." In her letter, Luby says: "What terrifies me about the admiration of such traits is that I know what it feels like to have a real life Husky look straight through you and to feel powerless, and to wonder if even the administration cannot 'mess with them.'"

Afterward, she says she began to receive rape and death threats online and in person, but the campus police department simply told her to "wear a hat." (Seriously.)

Another alleged victim, student Erica Daniels, says she was drugged and raped by a coworker in a campus bookstore. But because she didn't report the incident right away, the school told her there wasn't enough evidence, she says.

UConn junior Rose Richi says she was sexually assaulted by a male athlete, and after reporting the attack to police, "the detective told me he did not believe me," she says.

Herbst says that "the suggestion that the school doesn't care about these issues is 'astonishingly misguided and demonstrably untrue.'" According to the CT Post, Herbst also admitted that her school did not tell one woman — presumably Angell — that her alleged perpetrator had returned to campus, but "that process has been corrected."

Image: Chris C Chen via Flickr