Five women sued a historically black college Wednesday alleging the university refused to respond to their sexual assault claims quickly.
The women, referred to as Jane Doe 1 to 5, accused Howard University of failing to provide a safe environment for them, not investigating their rape claims properly and not providing the proper counseling services for them, reports Buzzfeed News.
“These young women are living on a campus where they have reached out for help from the school, and the passage of time is just compounding the harm that they feel. They should feel safe on their campus, safe in their classrooms, in their dorms, and Howard has not ensured that they do feel safe,” Linda M. Correia, an attorney representing the women, told Buzzfeed News.
One of the women, Jane Doe 2, maintained that another women’s rape could have been avoided had the university properly handled her sexual assault accusations. Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 1 were both raped by the same resident assistant, the lawsuit said.
“Plaintiff Doe 2 left Howard when her case was not investigated because she felt unsafe on campus and was receiving no information or support from Howard. Howard’s failure to investigate and effectively resolve Doe 2’s complaint meant the assailant remained on campus as an RA and raped Doe 1 over five months later,” the lawsuit maintained.
Jane Doe 3 accused the university of not providing her with the proper resources to help her cope with suicidal thoughts and depression after her sexual assault. She alleges a campus police officer raped her while they were in a relationship, the lawsuit said. Jane Doe 4 also claimed Howard University took too long to respond to her requests for help after a student allegedly raped her.
Jane Doe 5 also alleges a student raped her. No longer feeling safe on campus, she tried to finish up the rest of her degree at another campus, according to the lawsuit. The university took a month to respond to her request, and they took another seven months to confirm she graduated after she completed the classes.
“Howard’s prolonged failure to adhere to its Title IX Policy inflicted a deep sense of betrayal on Plaintiffs that pervaded their educational experience after they reported sexual assaults and deprived them of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school,” the lawsuit states. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages, court costs and attorneys’ fees, among other things.
“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 university said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. They added that they do not comment on pending litigation.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Howard University.
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