Former Grad Student Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Vanderbilt

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Former Grad Student Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Vanderbilt

CREATED Jul 14, 2014
by Nick Beres

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Stunning accusations have surfaced in a $20 million lawsuit against Vanderbilt University.

There are claims of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination from a former graduate student.

She alleges a pattern of abuse from a supervising professor and claims it continued even after it was reported. This lawsuit comes at a time when Vanderbilt is already being scrutinized for how it handles harassment complaints.

Consider this excerpt from the lawsuit: At a conference the professor "... required the female graduate students to attend a boat party where the male professors became intoxicated and were allowed to make romantic and sexual advances on the students."

Then there's this: The professor "would routinely call her ugly, fat and ... a stupid in front of other students."

The suit alleges he knew the graduate student was a recovering alcoholic and told her he wished she "would start drinking again because she would be more fun," and that "... she would be less stressed out if she had more sex."

"Anytime you have a complaint that has these types of allegations it will have a devastating effect," said NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo who said the issue goes beyond just the comments.

There's also the question of what happened after the student reported the alleged abuse?

According to the lawsuit, when the student reported the conduct to the professor's supervisor he informed her "that in his opinion it was nothing but a personality conflict."

The lawsuit comes at a sensitive time for Vanderbilt. The U.S. Department of Education is already investigating the university -- this after six students filed a complaint in 2013 alleging the mishandling of sexual assault and harassment cases on campus.

The former graduate student who filed this lawsuit said the sexually explicit jokes and innuendo drove her from the program before she could earn her Ph.D. Her lawyer said she wants those responsible held accountable, so it never happens to another student.

Officials from Vanderbilt have not had a chance to review the lawsuit and declined to comment at this time.