13th Student Files Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Harvard

Yet another sexual assault survivor has spoken up about Harvard’s failure to keep her safe.

Alyssa Leader is the thirteenth Harvard student to file a Title IX lawsuit against the school, alleging that Harvard repeatedly ignored her reports of assault and even housed her with her attacker.

The school has a legal duty to support victims, adequately investigate complaints of campus sexual assault and harassment and separate victims from alleged perpetrators in the process.

After months of being told Harvard could do nothing about her continually being harassed, Alyssa sought and obtained a permanent  restraining order against the accused in civil court.

Harvard has a serious problem. Kamilah Willingham, a survivor who spoke in our film about her trauma and Harvard’s attempt to bury it, has endured tremendous abuse as a result of her bravery. Some of her own professors went so far as to ridicule her publicly while grossly distorting the facts.

Until schools take their federally-mandated duty to protect students seriously, it falls to survivors like Kamilah and Alyssa to come forward and create change. It shouldn’t be their responsibility to protect their peers and future students, but they do and we commend them for their courage.

Thankfully, there are other Harvard students and educators trying to enact positive change, like the student Harassment/Assault Legal Team (HALT) at Harvard Law, which came to the defense of Kamilah’s account in The Hunting Ground, and Jessica Fournier ‘17, an organizer of the anti-sexual assault advocacy group Our Harvard Can Do Better. This week, Fournier outlined her organization’s goals for the semester: “[We] see our role as a voice outside of the administration, outside of Harvard, that is able to be critical of what the administration is doing and to push… a policy-oriented angle.”

For more on Alyssa Leader’s lawsuit, read Tyler Kingkade’s article in the Huffington Post.