November 30, 2017

Last November, a psychology student named Samantha Garrett told a professor at the University of South Florida that her classmate had raped her, leaving her bruised and bleeding.

The gears of the university’s student conduct system began turning. A university investigator soon found her classmate "responsible" for non-consensual sex. Instead of a formal hearing, he chose to accept sanctions.

This is where, in Garrett’s estimation, USF’s actions began to go horribly wrong.

On Thursday, the 26-year-old doctoral student filed a federal lawsuit against USF, accusing the university of empowering the man she calls her rapist while destroying her own sense of safety.

Garrett is being represented by Michael Dolce of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, a national firm that advocates for clients who say their Title IX protections have been violated.

Dolce disputed USF’s comment about Garrett appealing, saying the school told her to withdraw her request then denied her pleas for help.

Dolce is also representing Garrett as she seeks a restraining order against her classmate Andrew "AJ" Thurston, 30, in Hillsborough County Court.

Originally published by Tampa Bay Times.