Ugly

05.23.14

Brown U. Hit With Federal Complaint After Sex Assault Scandal

She was choked and suffered a spinal injury. He was suspended for it. And now, she’s filed a federal complaint over what she sees as a miscarriage of justice.

Brown University has been hit with a federal complaint that it violated the law in its handling of a controversial sexual abuse case.

Lena Sclove was allegedly assaulted by a fellow student, Daniel Kopin, while attending Brown last summer.

During the assault, Sclove told me, she was twice choked by Kopin, which later resulted in a spinal injury. Her attacker was suspended from school for just one year.

In the days after the incident, Sclove reported it to the school and went through a time-consuming, emotionally-draining hearing process.

In the end, the panel who heard Sclove's case found her alleged attacker guilty of three separate sexual misconduct violations, one which "includes one or more of the following: penetration, violent physical force, or injury" and an additional code of conduct violation concerning the illegal possession or use of drugs or alcohol.

But the punishment for the offenses was relatively minor. Sclove appealed the decision, but the appeal was not granted. Sclove says the spinal injury that came as a result of the assault forced her to take a leave of absence, meaning by the time she would be back at Brown, so would Kopin.

Out of options, Sclove went public with her case—speaking to a crowd outside of Brown's gates and sharing her story with The Daily Beast. Now, Sclove is fighting back even harder, by filing federal complaints against the university.

On Thursday, Sclove "filed administrative charges under Title IX and the Clery Act with the federal Department of Education against Brown University in connection with Brown's failure to expel a student whom it had found responsible for nonconsensual sexual misconduct…" Title IX and the Clery Act are the two main laws that apply to schools’ handling of sexual misconduct (aspects of the Violence Against Women Act’s 2013 reauthorization also apply).

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Sclove said, "I filed these two federal complaints in order to secure justice and hopefully to prevent another person from going through what I did. I trust that the U.S. Department of Education has the expertise, the investigative powers, and most importantly the independence to review my case and make sure this never happens to another person ever."

Further, Sclove said, "Brown should become a leader among universities by making lasting changes to its response to rape and sexual assault policies."

Earlier this month, the Department of Ed released a list of 55 colleges currently the subject of federal complaints that they violated Title IX.

Update: A spokeswoman for Brown, Marisa Quinn, has responded to The Daily Beast: "We have not been notified of a complaint, but recognize the seriousness of our obligations under the Clery Act and Title IX. As was noted in President Paxson's May 2 letter, our goal is to move Brown to a position of national leadership for prevention, advocacy, and repsonse to issues of sexual assault. As we also noted in tht letter, we are proceeding with several important new initiatives and more are forthcoming."