EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD/WLNS) — Four Michigan State University students have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the school and its leaders of a slow and inadequate response to their sexual assault complaints.
In the suit filed Wednesday, the women say school administrators acted with “deliberate indifference” to their claims. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages from the university board of trustees, President Lou Ann Simon and others, including the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Two plaintiffs, Emily Kollaritsch and Shayna Gross, attended a news conference near campus to announce the suit. They say they were assaulted by the same male student.
“Michigan State University’s investigation process has caused me harm and delivered me absolutely no justice,” said Gross, an MSU senior from Sand Lake.
In the suit, Gross says she was raped multiple times in one night by a fellow student who she described as an acquaintance. She says that she was first raped at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, then in her dorm room and again in the alleged rapist’s dorm room.
Wednesday, Gross said that the only thing worse than the attack was the way the university handled her complaint.
“You never think you will be a victim of your own university, but I am,” Gross said.
The U.S. Department of Education says that under Title IX, schools should finish investigations within 60 days of the alleged misconduct. Gross claims her investigation took more than eight months to complete and that at the end, the university found there was not enough evidence to prove an assault happened.
The three other women, two of whom remained anonymous, have similar allegations.
Other allegations in the suit say investigation reports did not reflect the facts of the accusations and that one university employee told a student who was fearful for her safety on campus to go to another university.
An MSU spokesman said the university doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but sexual misconduct is something university leaders “take very seriously.”
However, spokesperson Jason Cody gave this statement to WLNS, WOOD TV8’s Lansing sister station:
“Over the past several years, MSU has taken significant steps to increase resources for survivors and revise policies to hear complaints in a timely and fair manner consistent with federal guidance.”
24 Hour News 8 reached out to MSU’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity on Wednesday, but it did not want to comment.
In September, MSU agreed to a list of changes regarding how it handles sexual assaults. That move came after it was added to a list that included dozens of colleges and universities across the country being investigated by the federal government for their handling of sexual assault complaints.
A survey of students and staff at MSU says one in four students who are women have been a victim of sexual assault. Nearly 72 percent of victims said they did not report the incident, WLNS reports.