Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

UC Berkeley sued over ‘indifference’ to sex assaults

Three women claim UC Berkeley treated them with ‘deliberate indifference’ after reporting sexual assaults

Three women have filed a lawsuit against the University of California at Berkeley, claiming they were sexually assaulted while they were students there and the school did not do enough to protect them.

According to the complaint, the three women were assaulted in 2012, and all of them reported the incidents to university authorities.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday, says Berkeley failed to comply with Title IX, part of the 1972 U.S. Education Amendments, which prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.

“To be honest, I don’t want to be here today. I’m frustrated, I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m disappointed that I need to be here to do what I believe is the right thing, again,” said Sofie Karasek, one of the women, at a news conference in Emeryville, according to

The others are Aryle Butler and Nicoletta Commins. Their complaint says the women were treated with "deliberate indifference" when they approached university officials about the assaults, depriving them of equal educational opportunities.

"Rather than stepping up and doing the right thing morally and under the law, UC Berkeley has deliberately shirked its responsibilities, which has served to injure and revictimized its students," attorney Alex Zalkin said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for loss of educational opportunities, emotional pain and psychological distress, reported The Los Angeles Times

President Barack Obama last year formed a federal task force to combat sexual assault on college campuses, in response to a damning report from the White House Council on Women and Girls (PDF), which found that nearly 1 in 5 college women is sexually assaulted by the time she graduates.

Also last year, the U.S. Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges, including Berkeley, that were under investigation to determine if their handling of sexual assaults and harassment violated Title IX.

The Berkeley lawsuit also says the school was negligent in failing to warn, train and educate students about the known risks of campus sexual violence.

Janet Gilmore, a spokeswoman for the university said it has not been served, nor have officials seen the complaint. "At UC Berkeley, we are committed to creating a campus community where sexual assault is not tolerated. Working with students, faculty and staff, we have made great strides on this front, and we are dedicated to building on those efforts," she said.

UC Berkeley issued a new policy on sexual violence last year that covers sexual and domestic abuse.

Al Jazeera with Reuters

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter