7 More Women Join Title IX Lawsuit Against Loyola University Chicago

Published: March 20, 2023

CHICAGO — Seven additional women are now suing Loyola University Chicago for allegedly mismanaging student sexual assault complaints since at least 2011.

In a lawsuit initially filed in November under the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, three women said the school “systemically mishandled and underreported student complaints of sexual misconduct” and “maintained a de facto policy” to “suppress reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment,” reports The Chicago Sun-Times.

At an off-campus fraternity party in 2020, then-sophomore Madeline Kane said she was pressed against a wall and groped by a male student so hard that she sustained bruises. When she told fraternity leaders about the assault, they apologized and told her the male student, who was pledging the fraternity at the time of the assault, would not be allowed to join.

Kane also filed a report with campus administration but the lawsuit says that in “contrast to the fraternity’s response and despite overwhelming evidence Madeline proffered — including photos of bruises, texts, receipts and multiple witnesses — Loyola took months to conduct an investigation and provided Madeline with negligible support throughout the process.”

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Kane said she was assigned a male caseworker and that she had to conduct parts of the investigation on her own, including deciding who the school should interview and what evidence it should collect. The lawsuit also says when Kane asked about mental health support and other resources available to her, she had to “seek out resources and information on her own.” No one recommended she report the incident to local police, Kane also said. The school later said it found “insufficient evidence” to support the accusation.

Former student Marissa Sepulveda said the school discouraged her from reporting her 2019 sexual assault to the police. She alleges she was told that because it was “only sexual assault,” it would be harder for the assailant to be criminally charged. According to NBC Chicago, Loyola’s website says reporting sexual assault to the police is an option. However, if an arrest is made, they may have to testify, which can be “an incredibly stressful and emotional experience.” The university eventually expelled her attacker after he “violently raped” another Loyola student, according to court records. A police report was filed in that incident.

Sepulveda said she was then raped by someone else in a dormitory bathroom a few months later and that the university investigated it.

“The response they gave me was, ‘Yes, he was responsible for four different acts of misconduct, including rape. But he is still going to graduate,'” she said.

Attorney Ashley Pileika, who represents three of the plaintiffs, said one major flaw in the Title IX federal law is that schools are not required to report assaults to police, even if the accused is found responsible by the university.

“Allowing a university to conduct its own internal investigation is very problematic,” she said. “If this was happening anywhere else besides a college campus, if this had been reported to law enforcement, these individuals would be facing serious felony charges.”

According to reports to Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Loyola has referred seven cases to the police since 2020.

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