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Purdue Facing Lawsuit Alleging Title IX Violations

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A female student is suing Purdue University for allegedly mishandling her report of a sexual assault.

The lawsuit claims Purdue violated federal laws under Title IX through a “deliberately indifferent” response to her claim of being sexually assaulted by a male student the night of Dec. 5, 2015.

The woman claims the man in question followed her home to her on-campus dormitory after the two attended a party. Upon being permitted to enter her room, court documents say he reportedly “forced the Plaintiff to engage in sexual intercourse against her will.”

The man has not been charged with any crime as a result of the alleged incident.

Brian Zink, Senior Director of News and Information at Purdue, issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.

“Purdue University takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and is confident in both the content and application of its Title IX policy, procedures, and practices,” Zink says in the statement. “Federal law and privacy rules prevent the university from discussing the specifics of any case.”

The suit also alleges the university created a hostile education environment for the plaintiff.

Two additional claims against Purdue are included: one for the violation of the plaintiff’s equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the other holding Purdue liable for failing to properly train and supervise their staff in their responses to sexual assault allegations.

Among other complaints listed in court documents, the plaintiff describes an “inappropriate and discriminatory response” from workers at the Purdue University Student Health Center, including questions regarding alcohol consumption after her assertion she had not been drinking.

Communication lapses with the university’s Office of Institutional Equity are also alleged, as is a bias among university investigators towards the alleged assaulter’s story over the plaintiff’s.

Dean of Students Katherine Sermersheim, Vice President of Ethics and Compliance Alyssa Rollock, and Purdue President Mitch Daniels are among the defendants named in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff seeks to be awarded monetary relief and wants Purdue to declare the violation of her Fourteenth Amendment rights. She also wants the university to “take effective steps to prevent sex-based discrimination and harassment,” among other judgments.

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