Editor’s note: This article discusses and describes details of sexual assault.
Amelia Roskin-Frazee, CC ’19, has filed a lawsuit against the University alleging Title IX violations. In a press conference this morning, she and her lawyer, Alex Zalkin, described Columbia’s inaction and mishandling of a Gender-Based Misconduct complaint she filed last year.
Roskin-Frazee alleges she was raped twice in her dorm room in Hartley during her first semester at Columbia. At the time, the doors in Hartley did not automatically lock, and Roskin-Frazee’s suitemates would often leave the suite door unlocked, allowing the man whom Roskin-Frazee believes to be a student to enter her room on the occasions of the assaults. Immediately after the first assault, she called Columbia’s Sexual Violence Response hotline, but she was unable to speak with a trained representative until an hour after she called. She says that she was also not informed of her rights under federal law, and that she was told that she should go on birth control (despite her being gay). She reported her first assault twice–to her academic advisor and to Professor Suzanne Goldberg, the Executive Vice President of University Life–and they both failed to report Roskin-Frazee’s claim to the Office of Gender-Based Misconduct. The suit also claims she was assaulted again a few weeks later, as she was treated at St. Luke’s for injuries related to the rape. The school did not begin to investigate her claims until the next fall, and during their investigation of the incidents, Roskin-Frazee says that the school did not interview anyone or review security footage or swipe-in logs. The investigation concluded 26 days later, with the University claiming that they could find nothing.
Roskin-Frazee is suing Columbia for damages, punitive damages, and medical and psychological expenses. “To be blunt,” she said during the press conference, “I am suing Columbia because I’m angry. I’m angry that Columbia administrators declined to investigate my first rape in October 2015, ignored when I was beaten and sexually assaulted for a second time in December 2015, and still fail to provide me with sufficient and prompt accommodations.”
In the past, accused perpetrators (such as Paul Nungesser, CC ’15 and another male student who remained anonymous) have sued Columbia for supposed Title IX violations, but Roskin-Frazee is the first survivor of sexual assault to file a civil suit against the school in recent memory.
We will update this post with the full text of the civil suit soon. We have also reached out to the University, and they will be releasing an official statement shortly.
UPDATE, 2:12 pm: We have received a statement from the University; you can read it, as well as the press release, below the jump.
UPDATE, 3:08 pm: We have updated the post with text of the civil suit.
The University does not comment on pending litigation, nor do we publicly discuss the details of specific complaints of gender-based misconduct because of our legal and ethical commitment to protecting the privacy of all students. None of this diminishes the deep concern we feel about any allegation of assault on our campuses. In recent years, the University has added experienced and highly skilled personnel to our Gender-Based Misconduct Office; enhanced the resources, education, and training available for the prevention of and response to sexual assault; and strengthened our gender-based misconduct policy, recognized as a model by many other universities.
The University’s annual report on gender-based misconduct prevention and response, along with our gender-based misconduct policy and a range of related resources, can be found at sexualrespect.columbia.edu.
You can read the press release in the photos below:
Here is the full suit: