Harvard Seeks Jury Trial in Sexual Assault Case

Harvard has requested that a trial jury decide the results of a lawsuit brought by a recent graduate alleging that the University mishandled her sexual assault complaint.

Alyssa R. Leader ’15 filed the suit in February 2016, arguing that Harvard responded with “deliberate indifference” to her sexual assault complaint when she was an undergraduate. In a filing on March 30, Harvard denied “each and every allegation” in Leader’s complaint. Two weeks ago, a federal court denied Harvard’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

“At the conclusion of [the Office for Dispute Resolution’s] investigation, the investigators concluded that Plaintiff’s allegations of harassment and retaliation were not substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence,” Harvard’s attorneys wrote in the filing.

Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall is the home of Harvard's central administration.
Leader initially filed a sexual harassment complaint as an undergraduate in 2015, alleging that a male undergraduate, “John Doe 1,” sexually abused and harassed her during and after a dating relationship. Leader argued that the University did not properly respond to the complaint and violated anti-sex discrimination lawTitle IX.

Over the summer, the University filed several arguments against Leader’s case, and a Massachusetts district court dismissed three of Harvard’s four arguments in March. The court did rule in favor of dismissing Leader’s claim against Harvard for premises liability, which would mean that unsafe conditions on University property led to harm or increased risk for harm.

This case is not the first time Harvard’s compliance with Title IX has been called into question. In 2014, the United States Department of Education found the Law School in violation of Title IX, and the College’s compliance with Title IX is currently under investigation by the federal government.

—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at leah.yared@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahYared.

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