Dillard University failed to take steps to protect women on campus after a former student raped a freshman in her dorm room, leaving him free to rape another student months later, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Even when the university did take action after the second rape, Dillard police did not assist the victim with threats and harassment she faced from her attacker and his friends, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the second victim by the National Women's Law Center, identifies the alleged rapist only as "J.B." and uses the pseudonyms Jane Doe and Kate Roe to identify the victims.
The suit claims the university was negligent in failing to prevent J.B. from being on campus after the first rape. It also claims Dillard is liable because the attacks happened on campus and in violation of a federal law that requires colleges and universities to take steps to prevent and respond to sexual violence.
As a result of the trauma, the second victim became “severely depressed" and suicidal, and her grades worsened to the point that she lost a grant that helped pay her tuition, according to the suit. She dropped out of school and was homeless for five months, the suit says.
Dillard officials did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2015, J.B. was a student in what the university refers to as its Emerging Scholars Program, an on-campus residential summer program that is required for students admitted on a conditional basis before they begin their first regular fall semester.
While J.B. did not meet the minimum grade point average to continue at the school full time, he continued to spend time on Dillard's campus "nearly every day," according to the suit. During that time, he was allowed into residence halls and other campus facilities as he socialized with students, according to the lawsuit.
That November, he raped a freshman in her dorm in Camphor Hall, the suit says. The rape and the alleged perpetrator's name were reported to La'Toya Lewis, a school administrator, and to Dillard police, who forwarded the complaint to the New Orleans Police Department, according to the suit.
However, no one at the university followed up, and J.B. was still allowed to frequent the campus, according to the suit. In one case, J.B. attended a party where members of the campus police were present and should have known he had been "identified as a threat to female students" but did not remove him, according to the suit.
In April, J.B. was watching television with the second victim in her room, also in Camphor Hall, when he tried to kiss and engage in other sexual activity with her, according to the suit. She refused and told him to leave, at which point he shut the door to her room and raped her, according to the suit.
When the second victim reported the rape several days later, Dillard police again turned the investigation over to the NOPD but did not inform her that another woman had made a similar complaint against J.B., according to the suit.
Several days later, the university sent out a campus-wide email to inform students about the rape. More than two weeks later, Dillard banned J.B. from the campus and distributed an alert to the student body with J.B.’s name and photo letting them know about the ban, according to the lawsuit.
That prompted direct threats from J.B., who texted a group including the second victim that “I know exactly who it was/is and I’m going to make her life a living hell." His friends also harassed her, according to the suit.
The victim contacted Dillard officials, who forwarded the information to the campus police. They told her not to worry about the harassment, according to the suit.