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Loyola University Failed To Investigate Sexual Assaults And Underreported Campus Sex Crimes, Lawsuit Says

The lawsuit from three current and former students said sexual assault is "endemic" at Loyola University.

Hundreds of students protest Loyola University's handling of sexual assault cases on its Rogers Park campus on Sept. 17, 2021.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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ROGERS PARK — Three current and former Loyola University students are suing the school, saying it failed to protect students from sexual assault and created a “campus culture of deliberate indifference and tacit acceptance of sexual misconduct.”

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County in late September, details the experiences of three female students who said they were sexually assaulted by other students between 2012 and 2020.

The students said in their lawsuit the attacks represent Loyola’s ongoing failure to properly address sexual misconduct cases.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Loyola student Madeline Kane, whose decision to go public with her story of being attacked sparked a large protest last year at the Rogers Park campus.

Credit: Joe Ward/Block Clubv Chicago
Hundreds of students protest Loyola University’s handling of sexual assault cases on its Rogers Park campus on Sept. 17, 2021.

Kane said in the lawsuit she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party in 2020 and filed a report with Loyola. Though Kane submitted photos of bruises, text messages and witnesses, Loyola officials determined the accused student was not responsible due to insufficient evidence, according to the lawsuit.

Kane said in the suit she also had to do some of the investigation work herself. Loyola officials gave her a letter from the accused’s lawyer threatening to sue after saying Kane could not retain her own lawyer, according to the lawsuit.

Another plaintiff in the suit said she was sexually assaulted in 2012 by a classmate, a visiting priest. When she sought to file a report, a Loyola official told her no action could be taken because her assailant was visiting from another country and therefore not subject to the school’s discipline policies, according to the lawsuit.

The victim was placed in a small group with her assailant for a class assignment, according to the lawsuit. The woman told her professors she was uncomfortable with the situation after being assaulted by the classmate, and the professors told her they did not need “troublemakers” like her and the victim could complete the group work or take an incomplete in the course, according to the lawsuit.

The victim took an incomplete and eventually left the school, according to the suit.

The third plaintiff said she was sexually assaulted in 2019 at a Loyola dorm and filed a report. Her assailant was able to stay on campus, and he “violently raped” another student while the attack against the plaintiff was being investigated, according to the lawsuit.

It was only after the second attack that the plaintiff’s assailant was expelled from the university, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff was sexually assaulted again in 2019 and filed a report with the school, she said. She requested Loyola issue a “no contact” order against her assailant as they were both members of the same club, a request the school denied, according to the suit. 

The investigation into the second sexual assault also was sustained, but the woman’s assailant was allowed to graduate and walk at the graduation ceremony, according to the lawsuit.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Loyola University Chicago Lake Shore campus in the Rogers Park neighborhood on January 8, 2021

The lawsuit is the latest in years of accusations Loyola’s leaders have not taken enough steps to combat sexual assault on its campuses. Loyola’s leaders also came under fire for a separate incident in 2019 in which a student was expelled and banned from campus after a rape allegation but was allowed to walk in that year’s graduation, the Loyola Phoenix student newspaper reported

Hundreds of sexual assault cases have been reported on Loyola’s campus, according to the suit. In 2017, there were 129 sexual misconduct cases reported on campus, with zero reprimands handed out to accused students, according to the lawsuit.

And sexual assaults have gone underreported on Loyola’s campus, according to the lawsuit.

“Despite knowledge sexual assault is endemic and Loyola’s students are routinely injured, the University has failed, and continues to fail, to take effective preventive measures and has allowed this dangerous situation to persist and cause harm to students … creating a campus culture of deliberate indifference and tacit acceptance of sexual misconduct,” according to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Loyola said the school does not comment on pending litigation, but it takes issues of sexual misconduct seriously.

“Loyola University Chicago is committed to ensuring that reports of sexual misconduct are addressed consistent with federal and state laws and the University’s institutional values and educational mission,” spokesperson Matthew McDermott said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges the school violated the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act and federal Title IX protections against gender-based violence at colleges and universities.

The three plaintiffs want a monetary judgement against Loyola in an amount to be decided by a jury. Kane, who is still enrolled at Loyola, is also seeking an injunction against the school to ensure it takes steps to overhaul its processes around sexual misconduct reports.

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