UC-Berkeley Slammed|on Sex Assault Response

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The University of California at Berkeley grossly mishandled three women’s reports of sexual assaults, the former students claim in a discrimination complaint.
     The women claim the defendant Regents of the University of California have a bad record on responding to sexually violent incidents on campuses. Plaintiffs Sofia Karasek, Nicoletta Commins and Aryle Butler sued the regents on June 29 in Alameda County Court. The Board of Regents is the only defendant.
     The women cite the June 2014 California State Auditor report : “Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence: California Universities Must Better Protect Students by Doing More to Prevent, Respond to, and Resolve Incidents.”
     The 113-page report says: “Certain university employees who are likely to be the first point of contact are not sufficiently trained on responding to and reporting these incidents,” and, “The universities must do more to properly educate students on sexual harassment and sexual violence.”
     Karasek says she “is constantly operating with a heightened sense of fear, anxiety and stress knowing that there are possible perpetrators in her classes that have not been removed from the university.”
     Karasek says she was inappropriately touched by a fellow student during a UC Berkeley Democrats Club overnight stay. During and after submitting her complaint, she says, she was never given updates about the investigation, encouraged or even informed that she could report it to law enforcement, nor was she granted an opportunity to present her claim at a disciplinary hearing.
     Karasek says she learned from the president of the club that the administration advised against removing the student who assaulted her from the group because they were concerned that if he went to another group he might assault someone there and “there would not be the same support structure for a survivor in that group.”
     Commins claims that after she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student, who tried to make her perform oral sex on him, the university was informed, and despite her requests for an investigation, she did not immediately receive a response.
     She says that she learned through an email that her assailant would be suspended, but she did not take night classes for fear of walking home in the dark and encountering him.
     Butler claims the university conducted no investigation after several traumatic incidents involving a John Doe. She says she was forced to withdraw from an internship with the Gender Equity Resource Center because she was considered “too political” for speaking about the university’s handling of sexual assault.
     Alexander Zalkin, who is representing Karasek, Commins and Butler, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
     The regents said in an email that they had not been served with the complaint and would reserve comment until they had seen it.

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