Lawsuit: USD Discouraged Victim From Reporting Rape
A law student at the University of San Diego is suing the school, alleging that she was discouraged from reporting that she had been raped by two classmates.
In a prepared statement released Wednesday afternoon, university spokeswoman Pamela Gray said the institution was " limited in its ability to discuss the specifics of the civil lawsuit."
"We respect the privacy of all of our students, especially related to sensitive issues of this nature, and we do not discuss student matters like this publicly," she said. "However, we take claims of sexual assault very seriously.
"For many years, USD has had processes in place to encourage reports to be made and to proactively respond, with care and concern for those involved, when complaints are received," Gray said. "We regularly review and update what we are doing to ensure that we are supporting the needs of our students and our campus community."
According to the plaintiff's court papers, which were first obtained by 10News, the woman told family members and a psychologist that she was sexually assaulted by two male students on May 16, 2013, at a gathering to celebrate the end of their first year in law school. She says that soon afterward, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
When she returned to class in September 2013, the plaintiff — identified in the lawsuit by the pseudonym "Jane Doe" — says she learned that one of her alleged rapists was enrolled in one of her courses and immediately informed the professor that one of his students had raped her earlier that year.
The professor told Jane Doe that he would report her allegations to school officials, but discouraged her from reporting the sexual assault to San Diego police, the lawsuit alleges.
When school officials contacted the plaintiff based on the professor's report, they, too, discouraged her from pursuing any action against her alleged rapists, according to the lawsuit. School officials informed her that female students make sexual assault claims "all the time," the suit alleges.
She informed USD on multiple occasions that she felt unsafe on campus, but the university offered no security measures or other assistance designed to mitigate her fears, the lawsuit alleges.
Jane Doe claims she was forced to quit USD Law School, but returned in September 2014, at which time a no-contact order was issued against her alleged rapists. She then reported the alleged sexual assault to San Diego police, who opened an investigation, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that during an administrative hearing at USD, the hearing officers allowed false evidence to be introduced regarding Jane Doe's sexual history and "weird" sexual interests.
Despite ample evidence that the alleged rapists perjured themselves, the hearing officers issued a letter last November stating that the plaintiff had not proven her allegations by a preponderance of the evidence, according to the lawsuit, which was filed last month.
She is seeking punitive and compensatory damages on allegations of rape, false imprisonment, interference of civil rights and gender violence.
In January, 10News obtained an email that USD President Mary Lyons sent to students and staff, informing them that "a USD student filed a complaint alleging that the university failed to provide a prompt and equitable resolution to a sexual assault complaint."
The email went on the say that the university takes complaints of sexual violence "very seriously" and vowed full cooperation with the investigation.