Mayumi Dickerson and legal team

Former LSU student Mayumi Dickerson (center) speaks Thursday, August 25, 2022 at the Louisiana State Capitol about her decision to sue Louisiana's higher education institutions over their response to her 2015 report of being sexually assaulted on campus. She was joined by her mother (left) and attorneys Karen Truskowski, Bakari Sellers and Nahshon Route.

A former LSU student said Thursday that campus officials’ mishandling of her sexual assault report shows why survivors often fear speaking out, and that she hoped her story will inspire others to come forward. 

Mayumi Dickerson is one of the plaintiffs in a July lawsuit filed against the systems that govern LSU, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Board of Regents. The lawsuit did not identify any plaintiffs by name, but she revealed Thursday that she was among the women suing the universities.

Dickerson was a freshman at LSU when she reported that Victor Daniel Silva raped her in her dorm room in 2015. Silva had already been accused of sexual assault at LSU once by then and had transferred to UL Lafayette before coming back and visiting the night that Dickerson said he assaulted her. In Dickerson's case, Silva was arrested but never charged. 

He cycled through LSU, UL and Louisiana Tech before graduating in 2020, despite racking up reports of sexual assault at each university, according to court filings.

“This has been a rough seven years,” Dickerson said at a news conference on the steps of the Louisiana Capitol, where she was flanked by her lawyers and her mother. “Just knowing that nobody has been held accountable.”

Dickerson is one of several women who are suing Louisiana’s higher education systems over their handling of complaints about Silva. Two other unnamed women are also plaintiffs in her lawsuit, while another woman filed suit in late May. 

Dickerson described the university’s responses to her reports of sexual assault as “absolutely heartbreaking,” and said the ordeal changed the trajectory of her life. Dickerson was expelled from LSU after her grades slipped in the aftermath of the incident, according to her lawsuit.

One of her attorneys, Karen Truskowski, said that while stopping sexual assault altogether is a steep order, Louisiana’s universities can do a much better job at responding to reports of them. Both lawsuits focus on how universities failed to follow a 2015 state law that was meant to require college campuses to communicate with each other when students transferred after being accused of sexual misconduct. 

Silva, who is not a defendant in either lawsuit, transferred without that communication happening.

The Louisiana Legislature tightened those reporting laws again amid an outpouring of frustration in 2021 over LSU’s yearslong mishandling of reports of sexual assault on campus. The new law calls for colleges to flag transcripts of students who attempt to transfer schools after they are accused of sexual misconduct, so that such incidents are not overlooked.

An LSU spokesperson declined to comment for this story, citing pending litigation.

“There is a problem in Louisiana with the way women are treated,” said attorney Bakari Sellers, who also represents Dickerson.

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