The University of Connecticut has settled a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed the school responded to their sexual assault complaints with indifference.
The school has agreed to pay nearly $1.3 million, including $900,000 to a former UConn hockey player who said she was kicked off the team after reporting she had been raped by a male hockey player.
The settlement documents were released on Friday in advance of a planned announcement by the university and plaintiffs. The school did not admit any wrongdoing, saying in the court papers that it entered the settlement "solely for the purpose of avoiding the expense and inconvenience of litigating disputed claims."
At the time the federal lawsuit was filed, UConn issued a statement saying it takes sexual assault allegations seriously, and approved of the way the women's cases were handled.
Gloria Allred, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said that UConn acknowledged her clients’ role in inspiring an important conversation regarding the issue of sexual violence. “We also believe our clients played a vital role in UConn strengthening its policies and procedures for addressing sexual violence,” she said. “We appreciate UConn’s willingness to resolve this lawsuit in a positive manner, allowing our clients and the university to move forward, and put this lawsuit behind them.”
Carolyn Luby, the lead complainant, is a recent UConn graduate. “I am glad to see Uconn has taken our cases seriously,” she said. “I’m optimistic about UConn’s proposed changes, and am looking forward to seeing them implemented in ways that will make a significant difference for years to come. This lawsuit has catalyzed change on UConn’s campus so that, hopefully, future generations of students do not have to experience sexual violence -- and if they do, there will be systems in place to ensure they get help, and [the] justice they deserve.”
Below is a video taken on November 1, 2013, showing Allred, in front of the federal courthouse in Hartford, explaining the lawsuit. It alleged that UConn violated the rights of the women under Title IX by failing to protect them after they reported being sexually assaulted on campus.
Kylie Angell, a UConn graduate, testified last fall before state lawmakers as part of a broader effort to address college campus sexual assaults. "When you go to the police to report a crime," Angell said, "you should not be expected to have to report the police to the police for not taking your claim seriously."
Separately last fall, Allred also filed a federal sex discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The DOE continues to investigate that matter, which could lead to the loss of federal funds for the school, although the AP reported that the complaint was withdrawn.
"This has got to end," Allred said last fall. "There has to be safety on campus. UConn, instead of being defensive, needs to say, 'We want to make change. Let's see how we can work to have more protection for our students and for the survivors, and enforce their rights."
UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement, "This lawsuit may have been settled, but the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has not been."
This report includes information from The Associated Press.