A former participant of the University of Wisconsin’s Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Experience filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday after she said university officials did not intervene when they knew another participant was sexually harassing and possibly assaulting female participants.
The plaintiff, referred to as Jane Doe in the complaint since she is under 18, alleges another participant, referred to as M since she is also under 18, harassed, touched and assaulted Doe. According to the complaint, these events took place on June 23-25, 2018.
Additionally, M also engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviors in the summer of 2017, but was allowed to come back the next year, the complaint said. Another female participant in the program told program officials June 11 M had tried to hold her hand and whispered inappropriate comments to her, but officials took no action.
June 23, the PEOPLE program took students to a pool in Madison where Doe said M grabbed her buttocks and stroked her body, according to the complaint. When Doe reported this incident to program officials, again, no action was taken.
According to the complaint, after the pool incident, M straddled Doe on a bed. While Doe was unable to break free, M eventually let her go.
After Doe reported that incident to officials, M was charged with sexual assault and Doe was sent home, the complaint said.
In an email to families who participate in the PEOPLE program, the university said they take sexual harassment and assault allegations “with the utmost seriousness.”
UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said that because this is an ongoing legal issue, the university is not able to comment on the lawsuit at this time.
“UW–Madison treats sexual harassment and sexual assault with the utmost seriousness,” McGlone said. “We have policies and training in place to prevent misconduct and to respond effectively if it does occur.”
A previous version of this article referred to M with male pronouns, but M has female pronouns. The Badger Herald regrets this error.