UConn settles sex assault lawsuit

Attorney Gloria Allred answers a question about settling a sexual abuse lawsuit against the University of Connecticut, July 18, 2014. (WTNH / Mark Davis)

STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Connecticut on Friday announced it has settled a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed their pleas for help following sexual assaults on campus were met with indifference.

“As I enter into my senior year at UConn I am optimistic that these steps will make a meaningful difference for all students,” said Rosemary Rich, a plantiff in the case.

The five women will share in a $1,225,000 settlement with amounts varying from $ 25,000 to $900,000 depending on the strength and evidence in their individual cases.

“These young women are pioneers, they’re on the frontier,” said Gloria Allred, the famed Los Angles Attorney that handled the case for the young women.

Under the agreement UConn did not admit any wrong doing or violations of the ‘Title IX’ federal civil rights protections.  It did agree to pay the students to drop their case. “Title IX was passed for the protection of college students and they’re actually using the law for their protection which is the way it was intended,” Allred said.

In reaction to the lawsuit, the General Assembly quickly passed and Gov. Dannel Malloy signed specific new rules, that all colleges and universities must follow when there is a sexual violence allegation.

“I’m optimistic about UConn’s proposed changes and am looking forward to seeing them implemented in way that will make a significant difference for years to come,” said Carolyn Luby, one of the plaintiffs.

“As a result of UConn nad our state government taking my claims so seriously, I have begun to heal,”  said Kylie Angell, another one of the young women in the case.

LINK: Details of the agreement (.pdf)

LINK: Statement from plaintiffs (.pdf)

RELATED: Malloy holds ceremonial signing for campus sex assault law

As the young women were celebrating the settlement with their lawyer and some of their parents the chairwoman of the legislature’s Higher Education Committee was telling News 8 that continuing to fight case would have discouraged other young women from coming forward and there was another big reason to end it.

“The university has already expended $600,000 in legal fees on this case and to continue obviously would have continued to escalate the cost,”  said Higher Education Committee co-chair Rep. Roberta Willis/(D-Lakeville).

The money to pay for this will come from the state’s ‘Claims Fund’ which is a pot of money set aside in the state budget in the event of lawsuits that result in payments like this.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to investigate Title IX complaints filed by the plaintiffs and other women.

Statement from UConn President Susan Herbst:

“This lawsuit may have been settled, but the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has not been. UConn, like all colleges and universities, must do all it can to prevent sexual violence on our campuses, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide victims with the resources and compassion they desperately need during a time of intense personal trauma.”

News 8’s Mark Davis will have more on the settlement later today on WTNH.com and on News 8 beginning at 5.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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