LOS ANGELES – Dozens of women have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights against Occidental College, alleging school administrators swept reports of rape under the rug.
The group is led by feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, who filed the 250-page federal complaint alleging the college discouraged the reporting of sex crimes and covered up rapes, the Daily Mail reports.
“On one occasion a student who was found responsible for raping a woman was given the punishment of writing a five-page book report,” according to the news site.
The lawsuit centers on violations of Title IX that deal with sex discrimination in schools.
Occidental College professor Danielle Dirks, who has spoken out against the college’s handling of sexual assault complaints, signed the civil rights complaint along with several of her colleagues last week.
“I’ve seen some of the outputs of these so-called ‘educational sanctions’ like book reports and apology letters and they’re abysmal,” Dirks told the Huffington Post.
The Los Angeles Police Department told the Los Angeles Times students from Occidental College have reported three rapes in the last three years, but Allred’s complaint alleges 37 students were “raped, sexually assaulted, battered, harassed or retaliated against for speaking out against sexual violence.”
Caroline Heldman, chairwoman of Occidental College’s politics department, spoke at a press conference announcing the complaint last week, the LA Times reports.
“Some students were discouraged from filing a formal complaint, while others were not informed of their rights,” Heldman said. “In some cases, the college chose to let perpetrators back on campus after they had been found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse.”
That’s exactly what Occidental senior Carley Mee said happened in her case. She told the LA Times she was raped as a freshman and didn’t report the incident to police.
“She said a university panel found the alleged perpetrator responsible and initially expelled him, but that he appealed and now will be able to re-enroll once she graduates in May,” the LA Times reports.