Students file lawsuit against UC Berkeley over rapes

February 26, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Sadly, rapes on campus at a major university are happening here in the Bay Area. Survivors of attacks at U.C. Berkeley say nothing is being done to help them by campus administrators. So, the survivors have filed a federal complaint for the second time in two years.

A group of sexual assault survivors gathered on Wednesday to say they are taking their complaints to the federal government.

UC Berkeley student Iman Stenson says it happened to her in her campus dorm when she was attacked by a man who also lived there. At a press conference, she said, "I felt angry, emotional, violated and confused. My case was opened in April 2013. It is now March of 2014. Nearly a year has gone by and still nothing has been done."

Stenson was one of six current and former UC students who sat together to say they were sexually assaulted on and around campus.

"I felt anxious all of the time because of what happened, but mostly because of the judgment passed on me and by others and by myself," said Meghan Warner, a UC Berkeley student.

And, they all claim, their cases were woefully mishandled by the very campus system set up to help them.

"Our hearts go out to them. It's unimaginable that this has happened to them," said UC Berkeley spokesperson Claire Holmes. She says new chancellor Nicholas Dirks is committed to improving services for survivors of sexual assault. "What I do want to tell people is that the most senior administrator on our campus has put resources into it, is paying attention to this and cares a lot about it."

Though not all assault cases are reported to campus police, one of the new initiatives is to dedicate an officer to the survivors.

"We're going to have somebody who will specifically make contact with the victim, kind of a one stop shop for the person to be able to go and get the information they need in the event they're a survivor of sexual assault," said Berkeley Police Lt. Eric Tejada.

Nevertheless, these women have now joined two dozen other sexual assault survivors in filing a federal civil rights complaint against UC Berkeley.

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