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Crime

Howard University Sued for Allegedly Mishandling Sex Assault Claims and Enabling Repeat Rapist

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A federal lawsuit has been filed against Howard University claiming the school failed to appropriately handle reports of sexual assault that occurred on campus between 2014 and 2016.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five Jane Does, alleges the school’s inaction resulted in at least one assailant raping again. The 71-page document, obtained by PEOPLE, claims that the accused repeat rapist worked as a resident assistant and had a key to his alleged victim’s dorm room.

Two of the plaintiffs also claim that they were raped by the same male student, who allegedly transferred to Howard after being accused of sexual misconduct at another school. Additionally, two of the five plaintiffs allege they had to leave the school due to safety concerns.

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When the plaintiffs tried to contact Howard officials about their attacks, they were ignored, the complaint says. The filing singles out one administrator for not returning emails and phone calls for several weeks. Some of the plaintiffs claim that they felt “suicidal,” not only because of the alleged attacks, but for the way that they felt the university was treating them.

‘You Embarrassed Your Family’

The lawsuit claims that Howard took no action on the assaults until one of the women began tweeting about her alleged attack. After the tweets — which sparked a high-profile campus protest in which dozens of students chanted “no means no” — the woman says she faced retaliation and blame from the school.

The complaint says that Howard’s Dean of Student Affairs told her, “you embarrassed your family by doing that.”

PEOPLE reached out to the dean, who did not immediately return a message for comment.

Jane Doe #1 alleges that she was fired as a resident assistant after she was raped. Doe #2 claims that Howard punished her financially, stripping her of her financial aid and threatening to have a collection agency try to recover her unpaid bill.

A Howard University spokesperson tells PEOPLE that they will not comment on pending litigation. An attorney representing the plaintiffs did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment.