Women announce federal lawsuit against UConn - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Women announce federal lawsuit against UConn

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Four women who said they were sexually assaulted while attending the University of Connecticut announced the filing of a 38-page federal lawsuit against the state's biggest university.

High profile civil rights attorney Gloria Allred is representing the women along with New Haven attorney Nina Perrotti.

"This lawsuit seeks an injunction and damages for discrimination on the basis of gender and retaliation in violation of Title IX," Allred said.

The lawsuit was filed online Friday calls for the university to change its practices, policies and procedures to make sure they are compliant with Title 9.

"This is about whether the university has complied with its legal obligations to Title IX," Allred said.

The women and three others said UConn failed to take their complaints of harassment and rape seriously when they occurred and again now.

"Listening to my personal story labeled as demonstrably untrue and misguided, I felt like I was re-experiencing the trauma incurred by university's failure to protect me all over again," said Kylie Angel, who is one of plaintiffs.

Angel said she was sexually assaulted on the campus in Storrs by a classmate in July 2010. A school hearing found her alleged rapist guilty on four counts including drugs, alcohol, breaking and entering and sexual misconduct.

Angel said she thought he was expelled. Then, two weeks later, according to the lawsuit quote "she found herself within inches of the student who had raped her."

Senior Erica Daniels said she was drugged and sexually assaulted twice by a classmate last April. According to the lawsuit, campus officials told her there wasn't enough evidence to pursue a case and that they only issued a no-contact order.

"I was in shock, hurt and disappointed someone with the power and authority to make change dismissed us," Daniels said.

University spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school will assess the lawsuit and released a statement.

"The university does all in its power to appropriately investigate and handle such claims in a manner that is fully compliant with the law and grounded in both sensitivity and fairness," Reitz said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Reitz went onto say that the university "cannot discuss specific allegations publicly due to federal student privacy protections and the legal constraints."

However, the university would "respond accordingly as part of the legal process in that venue," Reitz said.

"President (Susan) Herbst apparently believes that all is well at UConn. She appears not to understand or care about the serious problems at the university," Allred said. "We are hopeful that our lawsuit will help the university fully understand their legal obligations under federal law."

Reitz said Herbst never commented on any specific student allegations and by law she can't. What was stated at last week's Board of Trustees meeting was a "challenge to the charge UConn is deliberately indifferent to sexual assault and its victims."

Allred announced new allegations from a student last weekend.

"I have now learned from reliable sources that alleges another student was raped last weekend by another UConn student. This new allegation once again highlights the need for UConn to take the allegations seriously."

"We are engaged every day in the important work of education and prevention around these issues and providing resources to victims we care deeply for the safety and welfare of all our students," UConn said in the statement.

The lawsuit does indicate how much the plaintiffs are seeking.

Allred said they have been contacted by an attorney for the university.

UConn police did not respond to the new allegations on Friday.

An informational hearing in response to a Title IX complaint being filed will be held by the Connecticut legislature's Higher Education and Public Safety committees at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Nov. 13.

To read the full federal lawsuit, click here.

To hear more about this lawsuit, viewers can see an exclusive interview with Allred this Sunday on Face the State at 11 a.m.

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