University, Ex-Head Sued Over Sex Calls
The Virginia woman who received obscene phone calls from former American University President Richard Berendzen said Friday she is seeking $11 million in damages for emotional stress on her and her family.
Susan Allen of Fairfax, Va., demanded $4 million from Berendzen and $7 million from the university in a suit filed in District of Columbia Superior Court.
Allen said that the calls had inflicted “a life-altering amount of stress and damage” on her and her family and had caused her to be hospitalized.
“Ever since the day after the first phone call, I’ve been on heart medication and other medication to sleep,” Allen said. “My life has definitely taken a very negative turn. My smallest child is terrified of any man she sees.”
Berendzen’s calls to Allen began in March in response to an advertisement for home child care that she had placed in the Washington Post.
Allen said he asked her if she would include her son in her sexual relations with her husband and said he had a female sex slave in his basement.
Berendzen, who remains a tenured professor at American, resigned the presidency and entered the sexual disorders clinic at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore after an investigation disclosed that his office was the source of the calls.
He later pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts and was placed on probation.
Allen’s suit alleges that American University did not act quickly enough once the calls were traced to Berendzen’s office on the Washington campus.
John Clifford, her attorney, said that the school first confronted Berendzen with its findings, and he then called Allen and “said she had destroyed his life.”
Clifford said that university officials did not pass their information to investigators until two days after they had discussed the matter with Berendzen.
Anita Gottlieb, American University’s assistant vice president, said Friday that the school had not received a copy of the court papers and had no immediate comment on the matter.
Gerard Trainor, Berendzen’s attorney, also was not available for comment on the suit.