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Howard University Failed To Help Campus Rape Victims, Lawsuit Claims

Photo courtesy of Howard University

A federal lawsuit has been filed against Howard University for failing to respond promptly to sexual assault reports from female students.

Filed by five female plaintiffs (who have been referred to as Jane Doe 1 through Jane Doe 5) the suit stems from incidents that occurred from 2014 to 2016 at the historically black university, with the unidentified women accusing the school of “discriminatory and retaliatory response to multiple complaints of sexual assault and harassment.”

According to the suit, both Jane Does 1 and 2 were raped on different occasions by one male student who had previously transferred to Howard after being accused of sexual misconduct at UCLA. They both reported the incidents but the university failed to do anything about the student, only acting once one of the women made her complaints public in a series of tweets, which prompted a campus protest and negative publicity.

The student who took to Twitter states in the complaint that Howard’s Dean of Student Affairs criticized her for the action saying “You embarrassed your family by doing that.”

Also within the suit are claims made by Jane Doe 3, where she states that she struggled to get counseling after she reported a sexual assault to a confidant and then to police and Howard officials.

“She also mentioned that she was extremely depressed, having a hard time getting out of bed to attend her school and work responsibilities, and was suicidal,” the suit states.

The university has not released a statement on the suit yet, saying that it is their policy to withhold comment on pending litigation.

“Sexual assault is a critical issue on campuses across higher education,” Howard spokeswoman Crystal Brown said in an email. “Howard University takes very seriously all allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and gender-based discrimination occurring on the University’s campus or involving the University’s students.”

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