Purdue faces federal suit for alleged civil rights violations

Purdue is being sued after a student claims the university did not do its part to help after she was sexually assaulted on campus.

Posted: Dec. 7, 2017 6:13 PM
Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 6:37 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue is being sued after a student claims the university did not do its part to help after she was sexually assaulted on campus.

The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges Purdue violated Title IX.

The case, filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana, includes four counts against the university.

Now the victim is demanding a jury trial.

Purdue sophomore Madison Simpson says she has been given plenty of advice on what to do if she's ever sexually assaulted.

"Sexual assault was, like, the last thing that came to mind when I came to college. So, learning about that was kind of an eye-opener."

It's the same case for sophomore Kristoffer Sjolund.

"From what I've heard, you're supposed to contact someone as soon as you can and try to get help," said Sjolund.

But a woman claims she wasn't offered help when she was raped in December 2015.

Now she's suing the university.

"It is kind of surprising that she didn't know really anything or that she felt like she couldn't contact police about it," said Simpson.

Court documents say the victim reported the rape at the student health clinic two days after it happened.

The victim says she was told by a nurse that she should quote "make better decisions when drinking."

That's after she told the nurse she was not intoxicated when the alleged rape happened.

She says she was never told she could call police to report the crime and was not offered help to do so.

"If someone even said, 'Don't bother calling the police,' I would call them anyway. If it's sexual assault, that's something the justice system should handle," said Sjolund.

Despite not reporting it to police, the Office of Institutional Equity launched an investigation.

During its panel meeting, the victim says she was treated as if she was to blame for the assault.

The questions included what she was wearing the night the alleged rape happened.

The allegations come as a shock to students who say they've received plenty of education on what to do in that situation.

"Considering there's a big stress on that on campus, I'd say it is surprising that there's something where they're saying that didn't happen," said Sjolund.

The victim wants Purdue to admit it violated her rights under Title IX and wants the university to help prevent similar cases from happening again.

Purdue released a statement saying:

"Purdue University takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and is confident in both the content and application of its Title IX policy, procedures and practices."

Federal law and privacy rules prevent the university from discussing the specifics of any case.

The woman has filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in June 2016.

That investigation is ongoing.

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