Emerson Student Files Federal Complaint Over Alleged Mishandling Of Sexual Assault

A sophomore at Emerson College in Boston said the school discouraged her from reporting her off-campus sexual assault by a fellow student and took months to conduct their own investigation, which ultimately concluded in the alleged assailant being found “not responsible.” Sarah Tedesco filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last week.

According to Huffington Post, Tedesco was sexually assaulted off the Emerson campus on October 12, 2012, by two people, including a fellow Emerson student who lived in her residence hall. In an article published in February 2013 for Isis Magazine, an Emerson feminist online magazine, Tedesco wrote about the specifics of her rape:

In October, I joined a group of my friends to attend an MIT fraternity party. The night took a turn for the worse when the friend I was standing with left to use the restroom. The rest of the group I went to the party with disappeared into the crowd.  I was alone, under the influence, and clueless.

Immediately, I was approached by a boy who gave me a drink, and insisted to see my I.D to clarify that I attended MIT. Upon arriving at the conclusion that I wasn’t an MIT student, he told me he needed to show me something. I followed him, unaware of what I would experience just a few moments later.  Upon leaving the main area of the party, everything became foggy.  I wasn’t able to say the words “yes” or “no.”  My mouth was dry, my hands were clammy, and I was scared.

The next morning every painful moment of the night before came flooding back. I had consumed alcohol before this night but knew there was something off with the way I felt. 24 hours later in the Tufts Medical center, a nurse revealed that my toxicology report was positive for GHB, a commonly used date rape drug.

According to Huffington Post, Tedesco reported the incident to campus police the next day. Her complaint with the Department of Education claims she was pressured not to report the incident to Boston police, but instead keep it handled within the school.

Instead of Emerson handling the incident internally, Tesdesco said, the school took three months to conduct an investigation, while she remained living in the same dorm as her alleged assailant.  “I was … told by several people in the administration and Office of Housing and Residence Life that it was a quiet matter and I shouldn’t be making a big deal with it,” she said. During that time period, Tedesco said she was raped by the same student a second time. Additionally, Tedesco claimed college officials called her parents and told them about her assault without her permission.

Last spring, the Emerson student who allegedly raped her was found “not responsible.” (In her article on Isis, Tedesco explains that her assailant appeared to have been wearing a condom, because a rape kit indicated the presence of spermicide but not DNA.)

A spokesperson from Emerson declined to comment to Huffington Post.

[Huffington Post]

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