6th woman claims Howard University failed to help after rape

WASHINGTON — A Howard University student who was she was sexually assaulted by a repeat offender is seeking to join a federal lawsuit the claims the university has been slow to investigate and has retaliated against rape victims.

Lawyers for Jane Doe 6 have filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, saying on April 9, 2016, the woman was raped by a Howard University student, in his on-campus dormitory.

Doe 6  joins five other women, anonymously, in a suit claiming the university’s handling of their rape allegations between 2014 and 2016 has made it difficult or impossible for them to attend the prestigious, historically black university.

In the lawsuit, claiming discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the woman said the university’s slow investigation, and poor communications allowed her alleged attacker to rape another student in the interim.

While reporting the rape to a school official less than two weeks after it happened, she said she was told, “I wish you wouldn’t have waited a week to report because we only have a few days left of school to investigate.”

The filing said woman told school officials she was afraid of running into her attacker on campus, but the school failed to make accommodations, resulting in the victim and her alleged assailant being assigned to the same dormitory.

She reported seeing the male student, who is a member of the Howard marching band, on campus, rehearsing and going to class, despite being told by a university official that he was no longer on campus.

The woman said she was told in October 2016 that her Title IX investigation was underway, but as of November 2017, the woman said she still has not been provided full details of the school’s investigation.

In April the woman was told that her assailant had raped another student, and that a university dean had promised her “don’t worry, we are going to get on it — we are going to move fast — we are going to nip this in the bud.”

According to the lawsuit, “Doe 6 was distraught and very upset, recognizing that if Howard had investigated her complaint a year earlier, it is possible another student would not have been assaulted.”

In July, the university filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan hasn’t ruled on the motion.

Contacted by WTOP, Howard University issued a statement:

“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. Our commitment is evidenced by our rigorous enforcement of the University’s Title IX Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Discrimination in Education Program and Activities. 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.

Out of consideration for the privacy of all individuals involved, and as a matter of practice, we do not comment on Title IX cases, allegations or pending litigation.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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