Sixth Woman Joins HU Sexual-Assault Suit

A sixth woman has joined a federal lawsuit accusing Howard University of mismanagement in the investigation of sexual assault allegations.

Her allegations are detailed in the lawsuit, which includes the cases of five other women. In May, those five women sued Howard, accusing the university of a “discriminatory and retaliatory response to multiple complaints of sexual assault and harassment.”

The lawsuit alleges that five former or current students were raped or sexually assaulted on campus between 2014 and 2016 by fellow students and university employees, and that the school did little or nothing to help them.

“Howard is deliberately indifferent to students’ Title IX rights,” the suit said, referring to a federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex.

It accuses Howard of failing to follow its own policies of timely investigations of such matters and investigating sexual assault claims within 60 days, failing to communicate the status of pending investigations regarding Title IX complaints, and leaving alleged victims without remedial measures or academic accommodations to “lessen and experience of an active hostile educational environment.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Howard demeaned and treated victims of sexual assault with hostility and failed to protect those victims against retaliation when they asserted their rights under Title IX.

“Howard’s response to reports of sexual assault amounts to an official policy of sex discrimination,” the lawsuit said.

Buzzfeed first reported the sixth woman’s allegations last week.

The woman, identified as “Jane Doe 6” in court documents, said the man who raped her in April 2016 has previously been accused of sexual assault and reported to Howard officials. A year after her report, the same man was accused of attacking a third student at the school and remains on campus attending classes, court documents state.

She also said the investigation of her case faced several delays and poor communication, including knowing the status of her alleged attacker at the university. The lawsuit said that Doe 6 was repeatedly asked to submit the same witness information and supporting documentation, and that the investigation of her case has gone more than 500 days “without resolution.”

Howard University would not comment on pending cases or those involving Title IX, but said that enforcement of the federal law and sexual harassment policies on the Northwest campus is “rigorous.”

“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,” the school said in a statement. “The university has been, and remains, committed to diligently investigating any such allegations to ensure a safe and healthy community for our faculty, staff and students.”

The report comes more than a year after scores of students took to the streets of the university’s campus in a #TakeBackTheNightHU demonstration to protest the alleged rape of two female students and Howard’s failure to properly investigate the claims.

Two women in the lawsuit, known as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, claimed they were assaulted in 2015 and 2016, respectively, by the same male resident assistant, who was not immediately removed from his position.

The accusations led to policy changes at the school after it was revealed that the student employee had been banned from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2014 for falsifying information to obtain employment with campus police and “build social relationships” with young women on the campus, according to UCLA officials.

At the time of his hiring, student employees at Howard did not undergo criminal background checks, but the revelations of his alleged misconduct at UCLA prompted the policy changes.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages for the six Jane Does, as well as a court order requiring Howard to revise its Title IX policies to eliminate “the active hostile education environment” for students who complain of sexual assault.

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Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer

Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.

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