Miami University failed to protect student from rape, lawsuit claims

HAMILTON, Ohio – The rape of a Miami University student could have been prevented if the university had expelled the alleged attacker for prior misconduct, a lawsuit against the university claims.

Three years before the alleged attack, another woman had reported to Miami that the same man had raped her, and two years before, police had investigated him for secretly videotaping consensual sex with students and showing the videos to others, without the women’s consent, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Eric Deters.

But a search of Butler County court records Tuesday found no evidence that criminal charges were filed against the accused attacker in any of those instances – or in the rape accused in the lawsuit.

The suit claims two fraternity brothers told Oxford police about the videotaping and that the student was kicked out of the frat house as a result and moved into a dorm.

Acting on the tip, police searched his dorm room and found three such videos on his computer, the suit says.

The videos constituted evidence of voyeurism, an Oxford detective wrote in his report.

But Miami University President David C. Hodge disputed that in a letter to Deters’ client on May 3, 2012, according to the suit.

“With all due respect, the Oxford police have already investigated this matter. We do not have any information to show that (name withheld by WCPO) committed any act of voyeurism on this campus or that the unidentifiable women on the videos on his computer were Miami students or were being recorded without their consent.”

According to the suit, the father of the alleged victim wrote back to Hodge: “I am not sure why it matters at all if these were MU students being recorded, although the likelihood of it being non-students would seem remote. It is still a felony being committed.”

WCPO is not naming the persons identified in the lawsuit.

Deters’ client says she was raped in October 2011. The first rape complaint was reported to Miami in 2008, the suit says. Police conducted the voyeurism investigation in 2009, according to the police report.

One frat brother told police that the accused student showed him how he secretly videotaped sex in his room and that he had seen the videos. Officers confiscated beer and alcohol from the accused student’s dorm room during their search, the police report said.

The suit charges that Miami should have expelled the alleged attacker for violating the Student Code of Conduct, and yet it did nothing to discipline the student until he allegedly attacked Deters’ client.

Miami did expel him after she reported the rape, the university told 9 On Your Side on Tuesday.

The university issued this statement Tuesday in response to the suit:

“Miami University is committed to holding individuals accountable for their behavior, and to providing extensive support for victims of sexual assault. The safety of our students is our highest priority. The claim that the University failed to take appropriate action or was somehow negligent is simply not true. While the University does not believe it is appropriate to publicly discuss the details of the case, the University emphatically denies that it could have prevented the assault of (name withheld by WCPO).

“When a victim reports sexual misconduct, Miami University moves swiftly, offers a vast array of (support services) to the victim and, with the cooperation of the victim, takes appropriate disciplinary action if the accused is a student. Within days of receiving a report, the university will often summarily suspend the accused student pending resolution of the disciplinary complaint. In (name withheld) case, Miami responded immediately and gave the accused student the maximum penalty and permanently dismissed (name withheld) from the university.”

Deters did not immediately return a call from WCPO.

The suit, filed in Butler County Common Pleas Court, asks for punitive damages.

See Miami’s policy on sexual assault at http://www.miamioh.edu/sexualassault

 

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