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BYU-Hawaii student files lawsuit over honour code, assault

October 12, 2016 - 1:01 PM

SALT LAKE CITY - A former Brigham Young University-Hawaii student has filed a lawsuit alleging the school's honour code prevented her from seeking help after she was sexually assaulted by her campus job supervisor.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/2d7xls4) that the lawsuit, filed Sept. 30 in Honolulu, claims the Mormon-owned school's rules banning unmarried students from sexual activity made the victim feel like she could not report her assault. According to the lawsuit, the victim had previously been suspended over an alleged violation of the school's Honor Code.

A BYU-Hawaii spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the university has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct.

The woman's complaint comes as BYU-Provo faces a federal investigation into its compliance with Title IX, which requires universities to follow certain procedures when dealing with sexual assault on campus.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was working for the university's student government in October 2014 when her direct supervisor drove her to a beach and sexually assaulted her on the way back.

"Through the remainder of (the woman's) employment, (the defendant) used his position as ... supervisor and superior to direct and/or lure her to the offices of the BYU-H Student Association and other locations where he could isolate and repeatedly assault her," the complaint said.

The newspaper reports that the woman sought the appointed position of student association vice-president in April 2015.

"Immediately before the interview for this position, over which (the defendant) had influence, he called plaintiff to solicit sex as a quid pro quo for his support of her candidacy," the lawsuit said.

The woman quit her position a week later and was psychologically unable to take final exams. She needed special arrangements to take the exams off-campus, according to the lawsuit, which also alleges that the university's staff director over student activities suspected the man was abusing his power but didn't intervene.

The woman's lawyer, Mark Gallagher, said she has since transferred to a school in Vancouver. The Salt Lake Tribune was unable to reach the defendant for comment.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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