Howard U. Repeatedly Punished Rape Survivors For Speaking Out: Lawsuit

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Five women have filed a lawsuit against Howard University, claiming the school failed to appropriately handle reports of sexual assault that occurred on campus.

Five women, referred to as Jane Doe 1 to 5, have stepped forward and filed a lawsuit against Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The women claim the school failed to appropriately handle numerous cases of sexual assault that were reported on campus between 2014 and 2016 and even refused to provide help to suicidal rape survivors. The school's alleged indifferent attitude convinced two of the five women to move off of the university’s campus.

According to the suit, an accused rapist, who was also a resident assistant, was also allowed to have a key to his alleged victim’s dorm room, despite the fact that he had been reported for sexual misconduct. 

Jane Doe 2 claimed if her case was handled appropriately, the assailant would have been dismissed from the university before he could assault Jane Doe 1.

Both the women claim they were raped by the same male student, who reportedly transferred from UCLA to Howard because of sexual misconduct.

In March 2016, Doe 1 opened up about her experiences at Howard University on Twitter saying, "This is why people don't say nothing. They wanna avoid all this unnecessary bullshit."

This resulted in on-campus protests, during which dozens of students turned up to support her, but Howard’s dean of student affairs was not among them. He allegedly told the rape survivor, "You embarrassed your family by doing that."

Additionally, when Doe 1 reported her rape, she was fired as a resident assistant, while Doe 2’s financial aid was snatched away as a result.

The lawsuit documents also accuses Candi Smiley, a Howard official responsible for handling sexual assault cases, of ignoring emails and phone calls from alleged rape survivors and their advocates for weeks, and sometimes even months.

Moving on, another survivor, Jane Doe 5, was only a month away from graduation when she reported falling victim to sexual assault on campus. She stated she did not feel safe anymore and requested to be granted permission to complete her students at another campus. However, university officials took a month to reply, after which they told her to provide a police report proving the incident did take place. But after being moved to the other campus, and completing credits, the university took seven months to confirm it would count her credits and let her graduate.

Then comes the case of Jane Doe 3, who dated a Howard University police officer who sexually assaulted her, "hit her, pushed her, strangled her, and threw things at her," the complaint states. She informed the school of her suicidal tendencies and requested help, but her pleas for help were not considered. Now, she is on academic probation and faces the possibility of losing her scholarship or even being kicked out of school.

It is important to note that on campus rape and sexual assault at educational institutions has become rather common. According to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, around 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. As appalling as it is, Howard, one of the country’s most prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), is just one another elite educational institute failing rape survivors. According to a study on HBCUs, 19% of college women experienced an “attempted or complete sexual assault” since entering college.  

Carbonated.TV
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