Former Southern Illinois U. Employee Sues School for Allegedly Mishandling Reports of Sexual Assault
She accused the school of failing “to adequately respond to stop harassment and discrimination”
A former employee of Southern Illinois University Carbondale has sued the university for allegedly mishandling her reports of sexual assault and harassment. She accused the school of failing “to adequately respond to stop harassment and discrimination” while also taking steps that allowed the woman “to be sexually harassed and assaulted.”
From The Southern Illinoisan:
The lawsuit accuses the school and plant biology professor emeritus Karen Renzaglia of Title IX and civil rights violations. The university is also accused of sexual harassment, retaliation and negligence. The former graduate student, Nicholas Flowers, is accused of assault and battery for alleged sexual and physical assault.
SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said Renzaglia does not have a current appointment at the school, but she “is doing some grant-related consulting work.” She has work space on campus that Goldsmith said is “in line with what we typically provide retired tenured faculty.”
Flowers earned a Master of Science from SIU in 2018, according to a commencement program on SIU’s website.
The university and Renzaglia are accused of violating Title IX — part of the Education Amendments of 1972 that says an educational institution that receives federal funding cannot discriminate based on sex — by failing to act on the plaintiff’s complaints of sexual assault. Title IX requires schools to respond to sexual harassment and assault on its campuses, or potentially lose federal funding.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a woman only identified as Jane Doe 5, seeks a jury trial to hear the civil case, and seeks damages for Doe’s psychological and emotional distress, loss of standing in her community, damage to her reputation and costs she incurred, as well as punitive damages meant to punish the university and deter similar actions in the future. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief that would require the university to change its policies for handling reports of sexual assault and harassment.
The case was filed Tuesday in federal civil court. The individuals named have not been charged with any crimes; they are asked to answer to the allegations in a civil trial.
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