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Art Student Complains of Sexist Abuse

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - A graduate student claims Washington University refused to award her a degree after she complained that her adviser insisted that her art work consist of "blood, guts and pussy."

Jessica Richardson says she was awarded a partial scholarship to Washington University's Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts in the fall of 2008, when Tom Huck was assigned as her adviser.

"Mr. Huck sexually harassed plaintiff by insisting that plaintiff make 'blood, guts and pussy' the subject of her work," Richardson claims in St. Louis County Court.

"Mr. Huck told plaintiff that he wanted to guide her work but that her work must involve 'blood, guts and pussy.'

"Mr. Huck insisted plaintiff's work include rape, assault and violence against women.

"Mr. Huck directed plaintiff to draw animals raping each other, put big silicone human-like breasts on these animals, make 'bloody pentagrams' a part of her work and paint other sexually suggestive and violent subjects," the complaint states.

Richardson says she told Huck those subjects made her feel uncomfortable due to a past trauma, but Huck told her to work it out in her art. She claims Huck told her "fuck that" when Richardson told him that her doctors advised her not to work on those subjects.

Richardson claims Patricia Olynyk, director of the graduate program, did nothing when she reported Huck's behavior to her.

Richardson says she reported Huck's and Olynyk's actions to Dean Carmon Colangelo in January 2010.

"Dean Colangelo admitted to plaintiff that this was not the first time this happened and that what Mr. Huck had done was unacceptable," the complaint states.

After Richardson met with Colangelo, she says, Olynyk placed her on academic probation for the spring 2010 semester and appointed her new advisers.

Midway through the semester, Richardson says, Olynyk told her to stop working on her written thesis and her advisers told her to spend more time on her studio work. About two weeks before graduation, Richardson claims Olynyk told her she was not going to do a final review of her work, that she needed to spend more time in the studio, work on her thesis and that she would not be allowed to graduate.

Richardson says she has suffered emotional distress, spent more than $100,000 in student loans without a degree and missed out on at least one job opportunity.

She seeks punitive damages for violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act.

She is represented by Mary Anne Sedey with Sedey Harper of St. Louis.

The only defendant is The Washington University.

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