Occidental College accused of mishandling rape, assault allegations

April 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Women filed a complaint against Occidental College Thursday, saying officials mishandled their reports of rape or sexual abuse while students on the campus. The women say the exclusive college is indifferent to rape victims.

Female students past and present, 37 in all, are named in a complaint filed Thursday morning with the U.S. Department of Education.

Organized to take legal action against Occidental College, young women accused their classmates at Occidental of sexual assault, and the administration of indifference.

"Two months ago I was raped," said one woman who did not want to be identified. "I reported it to the police and also to the administration at the college expecting support and compassion. I received neither."

Most of the alleged victims did not file police reports, but they say that the school administration hearings should produce more punishment for the alleged perpetrators.

"In the past six years my heart has been broken over and over again by students who have reported to me that they have been raped by fellow students," said Caroline Heldman, chair of the politics department.

The school said in a written statement: "We take this issue exceptionally seriously and will not tolerate sexual misconduct."

The students have formed the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition, reaching out to colleges across the nation struggling with similar issues.

One student explained that she was victimized after alcohol-fueled parties and can't remember exactly what happened.

"Nine out of 10 rapes and sexual assaults in the United States are not stranger rapes, so alcohol is often used as a weapon by perpetrators," said Heldman.

One of the group's demands by the group: They want the school to send out alerts after a student reports any type of sexual assault. The college president said the alert system must be reserved for emergencies such as a shooter on campus.

The school says it has implemented reforms and is calling in consultants.

An attorney for the six women said she wants a federal investigation.


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