Former Augustana student files Title IX lawsuit alleging “discriminatory” and “retaliatory” actions by school

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By: Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw

A former Augustana College student has filed a federal lawsuit against the school alleging that, after Grace O’Shea reported an assault to the college, it took retaliatory actions against her.

The lawsuit, which demands a jury trial, names the college and five people as defendants. Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“In order to stand up for herself and other sexual assault survivors,” Grace O’Shea filed the suit in federal court, says her attorney, Nicole Gorovsky, attorney/owner, of the St. Louis-based Gorovsky Law, LLC, in a news release.

Full lawsuit details here:Download

“Grace O’Shea had hoped her College would do the right thing, but Augustana’s Title IX process turned out to be retaliatory and discriminatory toward women and gender violence survivors,” Gorovsky says in the release.

The former student filed the suit “in hopes that this betrayal by the college, this discrimination from a community that was supposed to protect her does not happen to someone else,” Gorovsky says.

“I think the worst mistreatment was honestly just the promise that there would be resolution to this case, and being pulled through like a 7 or 8 month process,” she said.

A process she said was interrupted after the school found out her alleged perpetrator was a perspective student at the time of the alleged assault in April 2018, something she says she was told would not be a problem

“Just days before it’s supposed to come to a conclusion, nothing. I would not have gone through the process if I was told that I could not finish it,” she said.

Augustana College released a statement about the lawsuit that said: “

“We care about our students deeply, and we serve students fairly and equitably. Our actions are guided by our mission, values and our community principles. And the press release you received does not reflect what we know to be true about the college or our policies prohibiting sex discrimination on campus.  

Augustana College is committed to preventing sexual violence and sex discrimination. We have carefully drafted policies and robust procedures in place to respond to reports of sex discrimination, and our responses to reports are in accordance with these policies.

Augustana is firmly committed to the safety and security of our students, and we continually work with our students, faculty, staff and others in the Augustana community to provide a safe and respectful learning environment.

Augustana reviews its  policies and procedures frequently to ensure they reflect the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the needs of our campus. We hold ourselves to a very high standard. In 2019, the college received a Moxie Award from the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) for our efforts to improve the response to victims of sexual assault and develop prevention programming on campus.

While we will not comment on the particulars of any pending litigation, we remain confident in the college’s practices and procedures, and we felt compelled to share this information in response to the misstatements in the press release.

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