MANHATTAN (CN) – A lesbian student at Columbia University claims in a federal complaint that she was raped twice in the same dormitory room because of the school’s deliberate indifference.
Amelia Roskin-Frazee says her ordeal began in October 2015 — only a few months after enrolling at Columbia – but the the Morningside Heights school has for years been dogged by similar allegations, four of which have spurred investigations of by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
In her March 21 complaint, Roskin-Frazee says her first attack occurred while she was asleep in a poorly secured dormitory room.
“Virtually every other on-campus dormitory” uses key-card technology, according to the complaint, but Roskin-Frazee says her suite at Hartley Hall remained unlocked at all times, and that her room offered only a manual lock.
She says she was reluctant to file a report about her Oct. 5 attack, and that her experience with Columbia’s bureaucracy only amplified this anxiety.
While trying to broach the subject of genital pain at the Medical Services office, for example, “she was told, she ‘shouldn’t have such rough sex again,’” the complaint states.
Roskin-Frazee says she called Columbia’s 24/7 Sexual Violence Response Hotline a week later, only to have an untrained staffer comment that she should be on birth control.
At every turn, according to the complaint, university resources officials neglected to inform Roskin-Frazee of her rights and options under Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination in education.
Representatives from Columbia University declined to comment on pending litigation, while noting a “deep concern we feel about any allegation of assault on our campuses.” The message links to the school’s Sexual Respect Initiative website.
Roskin-Frazee says her second attack occurred in the same poorly secured dorm room where she was first raped because the school made it too burdensome to change housing.
The young woman had been opening her dorm door at night, according to the complaint, when someone pushed her in from behind, and used her underwear and an iPhone charging cord to tie her hands to a desk chair.
As her assailant began penetrating her with a hairbrush, a razor and a pair of scissors, she says her screams were muffled by the shorts he shoved in her mouth.
“Still a dyke?” he whispered as he penetrated her with the scissors, according to the complaint. Roskin-Frazee says he also cut her thighs with the razor blade. Though she sought treatment at St. Luke’s Hospital, Roskin-Frazee says her distrust of the university prevented her from reporting what happened.
She says her attacker continued to torment her for the next several months. “Isn’t it fun to wake up to someone fucking you?” someone wrote in a note posted on the bulletin board on Feb. 10, 2016. Six days later, in the same handwriting, “another note was posted on the public bulletin board that read, ‘I’ll buy you a new phone charger.’”
Roskin-Frazee says she formally reported her rape that August and requested a lock on the door to her dorm suit in September. Though Columbia had completed its investigation of her report in October, according to the complaint, “the investigators had not interviewed anybody, did not review the swipe logs for her dormitory building for the nights of her respective sexual assaults, and could not review any security camera footage because the footage had been erased due to the length of time that had passed since plaintiff’s assaults.”
Security footage would have been available to Columbia if it had investigated immediately after her attacks, she claims.
Roskin-Frazee says she was finally given a housing accommodation for the 2017-18 school year, but she says her academic experience has marred by the school’s indifference to her attacks.
As quoted in the complaint, a 2015 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities found that nearly a quarter of undergraduate women at Columbia are sexually assaulted while enrolled.
Roskin-Frazee is represented by Robert Hantman in New York and Irwin Zalkin in San Diego.