Howard University Refused to Help Suicidal Rape Victims, Horrifying Lawsuit Alleges

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Howard University officials refused to provide the help that suicidal rape victims at the school requested and were so slow to respond to reports of sexual assault on the Washington, D.C. campus that an alleged assailant was able to rape another woman on campus, according to an explosive new lawsuit against the school.

The complaint, which was filed on Wednesday, also alleges that the university allowed a resident assistant accused of rape to have a key to his alleged victim’s dorm room. Two of the plaintiffs in the case, who are referred to only as Jane Doe 1 through 5, found the situation so intolerable that they were forced to leave the university over concerns about their safety and mental health.

Jane Doe 1 said she was raped by an RA in her dorm and, after hearing no response from campus officials six weeks after reporting the assault, she told her story on Twitter in March 2016, which resulted in a nearly 100-student protest against the university’s handling of her case. She also alleges that Howard fired her as a RA after she reported being assaulted.

Doe 2 said in the complaint that she reached out to Doe 1 after she told her story publicly to say she was raped by the same assailant five months earlier. Doe 2 left campus when her case wasn’t investigated by the university, the suit alleges. She also said the university removed her Pell grant and need-based scholarship and threatened to refer her to a debt collection agency.

When Howard officials finally followed up with Doe 1 after the public outcry, the school’s dean of student affairs allegedly told her, “You embarrassed your family by doing that,” a reference to her tweets about being assaulted.

Another plaintiff in the case, Doe 3, said she was sexually and physically assaulted by a Howard University campus police officer. When she reached out for counseling services in January 2015, saying she was depressed, suicidal, and having an extremely hard time coping with the assaults, her plea was met by two weeks of silence. She wasn’t able to get the counseling she needed until nearly two months later, the complaint alleges.


The university told BuzzFeed News it won’t comment on pending litigation. Over the past decade, Howard has received more than $1 million in federal funding over the last decade specifically to address sexual assault on campus.


  • A racist note allegedly found on a St. Olaf College student’s windshield late last month sparked protests against racist hate speech and canceled classes on the Minnesota campus. But in an email to the student body, the college president said the note, which threatened “Shut up or I will shut you up” and used the n-word, was apparently a hoax.
  • President Trump is more unhappy with Press Secretary Sean Spicer than usual, and Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports that Trump is considering axing him next over Spicer’s failure to convey a coherent message about FBI Director James Comey’s firing.


  • The Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce today that they’re banning all laptop use in the cabins on all flights from Europe to the U.S., according to a report from The Daily Beast.
  • Lester Holt’s interview with Trump airs tonight on NBC Nightly News, scheduled to start at 6:30 pm ET.


Here are two tweets about our president and Diet Coke, presented without comment:


Managing Editor, Splinter