David Richardson, a candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is calling for an investigation into primary opponent Donna Shalala‘s handling of sexual assault cases when she was president of the University of Miami (UM).
Shalala led the school in 2014 when two of the school’s football players were accused of raping a 17-year-old student in a campus dorm. She’s now also running in the CD 27 race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Neither JaWand Blue nor Alexander Figueroa faced jail time over the incident after the victim declined to testify.
That victim, identified only as “Jane Doe,” now is suing the university over its failing to protect her after she arrived on campus. The alleged attack took place just days after she arrived to the university.
Then-President Shalala is quoted by the Miami New Times as saying at the time of the attack that after speaking to the victim, Shalala “reassured her of our full support.”
In the lawsuit, first reported by the Daily Business Review, Doe is also claiming UM did not provide proper counseling after the attack. While she did attend counseling, she says she “didn’t really feel that the counselor cared,” according to one of her attorneys.
Now, Richardson says Shalala’s actions as president deserve more scrutiny.
“In the wake of this new evidence, I am calling for a comprehensive investigation into how Donna Shalala and the leadership of the University of Miami has handled all sexual misconduct allegations and what measures were taken to protect students and all the other victims,” Richardson said.
“According to a sexual assault victim’s newly released statement, the University of Miami, under Donna Shalala’s presidency, offered ‘no significant counseling or treatment’ to an underage student after she was raped at the age of 17—even after she personally met with Shalala. Situations like these on college campuses are all too often swept under the rug, but we cannot let that happen this time.”
The university did take action against the players, kicking them off the football team and then expelling them altogether. The pair eventually agreed to undergo sex-offender treatment and perform 100 hours of community service.
Florida Politics reached out to the Shalala campaign for comment, and was directed to remarks given by an attorney representing UM in the matter, Eric Isicoff of Isicoff, Ragatz & Koenigsberg.
He spoke with the Daily Business Review when they broke the original story, saying, “This matter was thoroughly investigated at the time it was reported, and the university took immediate and swift disciplinary action against the two male students involved.”
He added, “It was also reviewed by appropriate law enforcement agencies, and no criminal charges were filed.”
Isicoff says UM officials acted appropriately: “The university intends to vigorously defend itself against this civil complaint, for which the University believes it does not have any liability.”