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Lawsuit: Miami U. failed to protect student from rape

A Cincinnati woman has filed suit against Miami University claiming her sexual assault could have have been prevented if the university had expelled her alleged attacker after an investigation into prior offenses.

The suit filed last month in Butler County Common Pleas Court by attorney Eric Deters claims three years before the alleged assault in 2011, another woman reported she had been been attacked by the same male and that police had investigated him for videotaping sexual encounters with women.

Two fraternity brothers told Oxford police about the student surreptitiously videotaping sexual encounters with various students, and he was put out of the frat house moving into a dorm room, according to the suit.

When university and Oxford police searched the student’s room in October 2009, they seized a number of items, including a computer and a smart phone. Three videos of his sexual encounters with females were also found, but faces of the women were not visible, according to the police report.

In February 2010, Oxford Police Detective Geoff Robinson wrote, “while there is evidence of voyeurism as evident in the computer forensic exam, identification of any victims does not seem possible at this juncture.”

“At the time, Miami had in place a code of student conduct that specifically prohibited voyeurism, including the use of video recording devices,” the suit says.

In a letter to the victim’s father in January 2012, Miami University President David C. Hodge wrote, ” To the best of our knowledge, the Oxford Police Department was unable to confirm there had been any non-consensual recordings of (the male) and unidentified partners’ sexual encounters stored on (the male’s) computer. While a person might suspect the recordings were not consensual, the law and our policies require that there be be credible and reliable evidence that a crime or violation of code of student conduct has been violated before we can impose sanctions.”

The university issued a statement in response to the suit and said the student was expelled after the rape was reported.

“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 (the victim),” the statement says.

“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 (victim’s) case, Miami responded immediately and gave the accused student, the maximum penalty and permanently dismissed (him) from the university.

The suit is requesting all compensatory and punitive damages. It is assigned to Judge Patricia Oney, but a court date has not yet been set.

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