UConn Faces Federal Lawsuit Over Response to Sexual Assaults

Nov 1, 2013

Attorney Gloria Allred in Hartford on Friday. A lawsuit is being filed on Friday in U.S. District Court.
Credit Ray Hardman / WNPR

Connecticut-based attorney Nina Pirrotti.
Credit Ray Hardman / WNPR

Four women who say they were sexually assaulted while students at the University of Connecticut have filed a federal lawsuit against the school. The lawsuit alleges UConn violated the rights of the women under Title IX by failing to protect them after they reported being sexually assaulted on campus.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the plaintiffs, spoke in front of the federal courthouse in Hartford. The plaintiffs are among seven women who recently asked the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to investigate under the federal Title IX law, which guarantees equal educational opportunities at institutions that receive federal funding.

Attorney Gloria Allred said the lawsuit is being filed today in U.S. District Court. 

Here's video of Allred's announcement:

A UConn police officer told one of the plaintiffs, "women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter, or rape is going to keep happening till the cows come home." The lawsuit seeks an injunction ordering UConn to revise its policies to comply with Title IX, plus compensatory damages for the four women. 

Last week, Allred filed a federal sex discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights under Title IX. UConn President Susan Herbst said any suggestion that the school is indifferent to allegations of sexual assualt is "astonishingly misguided." 

University spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school was looking into the lawsuit, and would respond later on Friday. UConn students rallied earlier this week in support of the women who filed the complaint against the school.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.