Students Sue UC Berkeley for Mishandling Sexual Assaults
Three women filed a lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley, alleging the school mishandled their reports of sexual assault — marking the first time the college has faced legal action regarding its policies despite two years of highly publicized criticism.
According to the lawsuit, Berkeley allegedly violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws, failed to “warn, train, or educate” the plaintiffs — Sofia Karasek, Nicoletta Commins, and Aryle Butler — “about how to avoid [risk of sexual abuse],” and committed fraud by communicating to them that Berkeley “was safe and that students only experienced a minimal amount of sexual violence.”
A spokeswoman for Berkeley said that the school had not yet been served and would reserve comment “until after we have seen and reviewed such a filing. “At UC Berkeley we are committed to creating a campus community where sexual assault is not tolerated,” the university’s statement continued. “Working with students, faculty and staff, we have made great strides on this front and we are dedicated to building on those efforts.”
In February 2014, Karasek, Commins, Butler, and more than two dozen others filed federal complaints against Berkeley — some for the second time — informing the federal government that they believed Berkeley wasn’t complying with two federal laws. The first, the Clery Act, requires Berkeley to publicly report crimes on campus, including sexual violence. The second is the federal gender equity law Title IX, which requires colleges to “respond promptly and effectively” to sexual violence and harassment.