The attorney who filed a lawsuit against Florida Memorial University on behalf of a freshman who was sexually assaulted as she slept in her dorm room, said his client is slowly healing after the ordeal. But meantime, he said the university, located in Miami Gardens, has not beefed up security or reduced access to the dorms.
In an amended suit filed last Wednesday, Morgan and Morgan attorney Thomas Hasty said that two male intruders accessed his client’s room in the Willie C. Robinson dormitory by entering though unmonitored fire exit doors that do not have alarms. He is calling her Jane Doe to protect her privacy. The incident took place on Sept. 12, at about 3 a.m. the suit said.
“JANE DOE was asleep in her bed in her dorm room when she was awoken by two intoxicated males who began threatening her with violence if she did not comply with their demands. One of the attackers brutally sexually assaulted JANE DOE despite her efforts to fend him off.”
She escaped her attackers and sought help from a neighboring dorm, the lawsuit says.
“She’s in therapy and that trauma that is now a part of her life,” said Hasty. “She had to pull out of school; she feels constant pain and frustration. Her family is supporting her. They came and picked her up immediately and have been taking care of her ever since.”
Hasty said his client does not know her attackers and she has tried to assist Miami Gardens Police with preparing a witness identification sheet.
Other than that, law enforcement is mum about the incident.
Miami Gardens police spokesman Carlos Austin said, “There is an open and ongoing investigation into an alleged sexual assault at Florida Memorial university,” and that no information can be released.
Hasty said he went public with the lawsuit because FMU has been notified before about safety issues on campus. He said as of two weeks ago, alarms had not been added to the fire exit doors. The doors to the dorms are not self-locking, either.
Hasty said that the dorm houses about 359 girls and has 11 unmonitored fire exit doors. He points out that the doors are sometimes propped open, with no consequence.
“The university is not controlling access to the dorms. The university knows they were using fire exit doors and sex was occurring in dorms,” Hasty said. “If you expect young people to do something and you don’t try to stop it, it’s indefensible.” He pointed out that “some 18-year-old kids will not have presence of mind to lock their doors. The school owes them a duty to keep them safe.”
There are common sense fixes that can be done to improve safety including lighting and locking, the attorney asserts.
“We are not asking for state-of-the-art defenses; we are not asking the dorms to be a prison nor are we asking for swat officers on campus, but they can prevent people from getting into these rooms – getting into rooms to attack people,” Hasty said.
He suggests putting alarms on fire exit doors, so, if tripped, the alarm would sound until a resident assistant responds and turns it off.
Hasty said the school’s defense attorney has not tried to contact him about the suit.
Florida Memorial’s spokesperson Opal Comfort issued a statement: “The case is now in litigation such that the University is not at liberty to comment.”
Hasty expects to hear more about the incident soon. He said violence on campus must be investigated and a report prepared and issued within 60 days of the Sept. 12 incident.