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UConn Faces Federal Lawsuit Over Response to Sexual Assaults

Ray Hardman

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

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 weekin support of the women who filed the complaint against the school.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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