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Student sues University of San Diego over handling of rape allegation

Law student says University of San Diego discouraged her from reporting rape incident to police

A law student at the University of San Diego has filed a lawsuit against two students she says raped her, and against the university for allegedly discouraging her from reporting the assault to police and then doing a poor job of investigating the incident during an administrative hearing.

The 29-year-old woman, whose name was not disclosed, said she was raped in a bathroom during an off-campus party in May 2013. The party was for students to celebrate the completion of their first year of law school, the suit said.

"The multiple acts of rape were accomplished through physical force, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion and imprisonment," according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the woman by attorney Daniel Gilleon in San Diego County Superior Court.

The university, citing privacy concerns, declined to discuss the case, but a spokeswoman said in a statement that "we take claims of sexual assault very seriously. For many years, USD has had processes in place to encourage reports to be made and to proactively respond, with care and concern for those involved."

The names of the two alleged attackers -- both law students -- were not disclosed in the lawsuit.

According to the suit, the woman discovered that she and one of her attackers were enrolled in the same course in September 2013. When she spoke with the professor, he discouraged her from reporting the sexual assault to police, the lawsuit said. University officials also discouraged her from "pursuing any action against her rapists" and said that if she did, her name could become public, the lawsuit said.

Officials told the student that women make allegations of sexual assault "all the time," the lawsuit said. A victim's advocate was assigned to assist the woman but "lacked any measurable experience in dealing with sexual assault victims."

In the fall of 2014, an administrative hearing was held but the officer allowed "false evidence to be introduced regarding [the woman's] alleged sexual history and 'weird' sexual interests," the lawsuit said.

The officer, after hearing testimony from the accused men, concluded that the woman had not proved her allegation by a preponderance of evidence.

The lawsuit seeks damages against the men for subjecting the woman to "cruel and unjust hardship" and against the university for "outrageous" conduct "intended to cause [the woman] emotional distress."

Since the rape, the woman has been diagnosed with PTSD, the lawsuit said.

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