Attorneys representing a former Florida A&M University student who reported to authorities she was raped three times are saying the university is “trying to dodge a Title IX claim” by unnecessarily trying to force the woman to identify herself.
Attorneys Michael Dolce and Takisha Richardson of the Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll law firm sent a letter to more than 40 members of the of the Florida Legislature Wednesday, asking them to investigate the university’s actions.
The former student identified, as S.B., filed a lawsuit in September 2016 against FAMU. She says the assaults occurred between October 2012 and December 2013. She finally withdrew from FAMU in 2014 to study elsewhere.
“On behalf of our client, S.B., a former student at Florida A&M University, we are writing you with grave concerns over repeated and ongoing efforts to by that state university to expose her identity as a rape victim to the public, risking mental health harm to her and risking placing a chilling effect on the willingness of future rape victims to report such crimes," the attorneys wrote.
The lawsuit alleges that FAMU was negligent in not pursuing full investigations involving the allegations, thereby violating Title IX guidelines that protect against discrimination on the basis of sex “in the provision of educational opportunities and administration of student discipline.”
The attorneys contend in their letter that FAMU’s attempts to name the victim “are strictly intended to intimidate our client into either dropping her lawsuit or settling for a nominal amount.”
The university’s Office of the General Counsel noted many American institutions of higher education have filed similar motions asking for due process under the law.
“FAMU takes allegations of sexual assault and Title IX violations very seriously," the university said in response. “Florida A&M University is merely asking for a fair and open trial. The plaintiff is an adult demanding monetary damages under Title IX and the University has asked that her legal name be provided to jurors at trial.”
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