In 2014, two University of Miami Hurricanes football players — Alexander Figueroa and JaWand Blue, both 20 at the time — were arrested for allegedly raping a 17-year-old freshman who was intoxicated when the men admittedly assaulted her. The school immediately kicked Figueroa and Blue off the team and expelled them, and then-UM President Donna Shalala said she had spoken to the alleged victim and "reassured her of our full support."
Instead, the alleged victim now claims in a lawsuit that the university failed her. According to court records the Daily Business Review first disclosed yesterday, the now-adult victim sued the university June 22 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for negligence. The woman says the school failed to provide adequate assistance or counseling after her alleged assailants were arrested.
The men were reportedly allowed to enter pretrial-diversion programs for first-time offenders, where they skipped prison time in exchange for attending sex-offender-treatment courses and completing 100 hours of community service.
The anonymous plaintiff, who moved from Pennsylvania to Miami to play soccer at the school, says in her lawsuit that on the night of her alleged assault, she entered her dormitory and interacted with campus security, whom she says should have noticed she was "obviously inebriated as seen on [surveillance] video" and acted to help her. In 2014, the Miami Herald reported that the teen had been drinking with the football players at the school's University Village complex before going out to drink at Mr. Moe's, a Coconut Grove bar popular with UM students. The Herald reported in 2014 that the victim got so drunk she became ill.
But when the two linebackers took the teen back to the dorms, she says, campus security did nothing. The two athletes were reportedly filmed carrying the incapacitated, underage student directly past dorm security, which consisted of what the victim's lawyers say was just one, untrained fellow student.
"Alexander M. Figueroa and JaWand Blue took the minor plaintiff to their room and severely sexually assaulted her and raped her numerous times without her actual or [implied] consent as she was physically helpless to resist and was unaware of what was going to happen and what in fact happened in the Pearson dorm on the campus of the University of Miami," the suit reads.
The student says she then reported the crime, and the two men were eventually arrested July 8, 2014. After the arrest, however, the victim says, UM basically ignored her. She claims in the suit that the school provided "no real significant counseling or treatment" and effectively hung her out to dry while she was bullied by her alleged assailants and "abused by other students and [others] on social media trying to protect the two rapist student-athletes."
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This is far from the first allegedly mishandled student-rape or sexual-harassment case at UM around that time. As New Times detailed in 2015, philosophy professor Colin McGinn resigned after his former teaching assistant outed him in 2012 for repeatedly sexually harassing her. New Times later obtained many of McGinn's creepy emails.
Furthermore, the school's former Title IX sexual-misconduct investigator, Dean William A. "Tony" Lake, was involved in multiple cases that led to lawsuits: According to legal filings, one student said that, after she was raped and then stalked by her assailant in 2013, Lake told her to simply "avoid" her rapist around campus. In another case, Lake expelled a male student, David Jia, who was accused of both rape and physical assault but, it turned out, was out of town when the alleged physical assault occurred.
New Times later obtained documents showing that Lake himself was quietly fired May 31, 2016, after he allegedly hit on at least one student whom he'd been tasked with helping. School administrators also said Lake had engaged in other "unprofessional discussions regarding other female students." Lake had been in charge of investigating rape and misconduct complaints at the school from 2008 to 2016.
Despite the alleged sexual assault by the two football players, the student in the latest lawsuit says she fought to continue her schooling and made sure she graduated on time, adding in the suit that she was "resolute" in "not allowing even a horrendous crime to keep her from her goals of playing soccer and graduating at the University of Miami, which she, in fact, has accomplished."