Institutional betrayal

Harvard graduate says school forced her to live in dorm with sexual abuser

A view of the Harvard University campus.

Alyssa Leader, a Harvard graduate, alleges that, while studying at her alma mater, she was forced to live in the same dorm as a student who sexually assaulted her. She filed a lawsuit against Harvard this week, accusing the institution of failing to protect her and creating a culture of silence around sexual violence. In 2014, Harvard was one of more than 50 colleges and universities to come under investigation by the United States Education Department for potentially violating federal laws related to sexual assault complaints. Harvard would later announce a new policy aimed at preventing sexual harassment and violence. Speaking with a reporter on Thursday, Leader said she hopes her lawsuit raises awareness about Harvard’s inadequacy in handling sexual assault cases.

The lawsuit states that Leader was “sexually assaulted and harassed” by a fellow student who became threatening or violent when she resisted his advances. Leader says she told school officials she was afraid, and asked to have the student moved from the dorm in which they both lived. Her request was denied, and she was discouraged from lodging a formal complaint, she says. Despite Leader successfully obtaining a restraining order against the student a month before graduation, university investigators would eventually conclude John Doe 1 was “not responsible” for any of the accusations made against him.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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