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Lawsuit alleges Brown University failed to protect women from sexual misconduct

Brown University is being sued by a group of current and former students who allege the school failed to abide by the law in its handling of sexual misconduct complaints.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, plaintiffs Chloe Burns, Taja Hirata-Epstein, Katiana Soenen and Carter Woodruff said the university’s sexual misconduct response program has been in “a state of complete neglect and dysfunction” for an extended period.

The four women, who are seeking class-action status to include other students and alumni, claim the school not only failed to protect students from harm but also prevented them from reporting incidents despite knowing that female students are “routinely injured.”

The suit also alleges that Brown took retaliatory actions against those who made their complaints public or protested its response to sexual misconduct.

“Moreover, Brown’s Title IX policies are contradictory, confusing, and difficult to understand both for students and employees,” the plaintiffs wrote.

They are demanding more than $5 million in total in damages.

According to the suit, Soenen, who started at Brown last year and is still enrolled, was sexually assaulted at an off-campus party hosted by Brown’s rugby team. She was allegedly discouraged from filing a formal report by the school’s Title IX program officer because the incident occurred off campus. The suit alleges that after Soenen filed an informal complaint instead, the school accepted her assaulter’s version of what happened over hers.

The complaint cites a survey of around 3,100 undergraduate students that found 24.5 percent of women experienced nonconsensual sexual contact after arriving at Brown. Nearly 50 percent of students reported experiencing some type of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The Hill has reached out to Brown for comment.

Tags Brown University class action lawsuit Providence Rhode Island Sex crimes Sexual abuse Sexual misconduct Title IX
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