March 06, 2019

UW Madison Accused of Indifference in Sexual Harassment Case

Sexual Harrassment

On March 4, 2019, Paul Kinne, Attorney at Gingras, Cates & Wachs, filed a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin-Madison for Title IX violations, on behalf of Jane Doe, an underage minor, who was participating in the Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) program through the university and was repeatedly sexually harassed by another PEOPLE student. The University allegedly failed to respond to multiple reported student-on-student assaults that occurred under the supervision of the program that made Doe more vulnerable to the attacks.

The complaint states that in 2017, the PEOPLE personnel were made aware of an underage student, “M”, who was displaying inappropraite sexual behaviors towards female students. But, UW-Madison failed to act and M returned to the program the following year. 

That next summer, on June 11, 2018, a female PEOPLE Program student reported that M had tried to hold her hand and whispered sexual comments in her ear. The school did not respond to her complaint.

On June 23, 2018, the PEOPLE participants were taken swimming at a Madison pool under the supervision of program staff. While swimming, “M” repeatedly groped and touched Doe’s bottom. Again, the sexual harassment was reported but not addressed.

There was another incident in June 2018 when M came into Doe’s room while she was sitting on her bed and mounted her. M pinned Doe’s back to the bed and straddled her for over a minute before getting up. Only after this incident was reported did the PEOPLE program respond to Doe’s sexual harassment complaint. M was suspended and sent home.

The lawsuit claims that it was UW Madison’s deliberate indifference to the pattern of attacks that made Doe vulnerable and allowed the harassment to continue. As a result, Doe was deprived of the program’s educational benefits and has suffered severe permanent psychological and emotional harm.

“Institutions entrusted with our children should not ignore any allegations of sexual misconduct.  Prompt action is necessary, or the behavior continues.  Doe is seeking justice for herself, but she is also taking action to send the message that institutions must take complaints of assault seriously, for the sake of everyone,” said GCW Attorney, Paul Kinne.

GCW Lawyers is working to seek justice for this female student and to prevent this from happening again.

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