A Temple student who attended the university during the 2013-14 school year has filed an Office for Civil Rights complaint against the university, alleging that administrators did not properly handle her reports of sexual assault, harassment and stalking.
The complainant, a transgender woman who also has physical disabilities, accused Temple of violating eight parts of various civil rights laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination.
The charges include fostering a hostile environment, failure to provide accommodations, discrimination against transgender individuals and not informing the student of her rights. In May, the U.S. Department of Education named Temple as one of 55 universities nationwide under investigation for possible Title IX violations in the handling of sexual assault and harassment cases.
A university spokesman declined to comment on the situation.
According to files of her complaint, which she released to The Temple News with some details redacted, the alleged victim was raped in her Temple Towers apartment in August 2013, after meeting the alleged perpetrator, a male student, at Maxi’s Pizza on Liacouras Walk. She invited him to her apartment and he raped her in the living room.
The victim said she was intoxicated at the time, but noted “[i]t was excruciating to have people focus on drinking as a cause of rape rather than rapists.”
To comply with the building policy for guests, she accompanied the suspect to the front desk to sign him out afterwards. The complainant said Allied Barton security noticed she was intoxicated when she could not pronounce her last name. When she bumped into a resident assistant who saw her intoxication, he called the other RAs and notified Temple Police.
“When the officer arrived, the security, RAs, and the cops let my assailant leave and he ran out of the building,” the complainant wrote. “Nobody asked about the assailant at all that night. I was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital for treatment.”
The complainant continued to explain that she began to remember details the next morning.
“My doctor is the only one who helped me after the sexual assault but it was too late to collect any kind of evidence for it from me,” she wrote.
Eventually, the complainant went to the Wellness Resource Center, who allegedly told her rape was “outside of their jurisdiction.” By contrast, the WRC’s website reads, “any Temple staff will help you to contact resources to report incidents and to get help.”
A Temple Police officer came to her apartment in September, but at that time she said she would not press charges. Later, when she changed her mind, she said they ignored her.
“I couldn’t even look at my living room because of what happened,” she wrote. She wanted new housing, but couldn’t obtain it.
“It was when I requested a change of housing because of my posttraumatic stress disorder and the rape alone without mentioning the physical disabilities that they refused every single time,” she said.
She wrote that after she reported her disabilities that the university responded to housing accommodations. Prior to that, said she was unable to leave her room quickly enough during a fire drill, and had to take an elevator.
The complainant also claimed that she was stalked by someone with whom she swapped “emails and pictures of a sexual nature” after responding to an online ad of his. The two planned to meet, but right before the proposed meeting he sent her a message which made her “extremely uncomfortable.” Though she decided not to meet him, he found out which apartment was hers and knocked loudly on the door, she said.
She says her stalker followed her around, making obscene sexual comments to her and her friends.
The complainant alleged Temple Police told her to confront the stalker and get his name, but she insisted she could not without feeling she was endangering herself. She also feared having a panic attack.
The complainant also said she was the victim of harassment from another person, who chased her, used slurs disparaging her gender identity and threatened to “crack [her] skull.” The complainant does not state in the documents whether she plans to return to the university this fall.
According to Section III of the OCR’s Case Processing Manual, which outlines the entire process for investigating complaints, the OCR will encourage both parties to negotiate a resolution agreement if evidence of noncompliance is found.
Joe Brandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.