Ex-student sues Oxford University over rape claim

Ex-student sues Oxford University over rape claim

A former Oxford University American student is taking legal action against the world-renowned institution for not properly investigating the incident when she was allegedly raped by a fellow student.

Elizabeth Ramey will argue that the university's policy not to investigate allegations of rape, except in extremely limited circumstances, is unlawful and discriminatory.

The 29-year-old is hoping that her case, which will be heard by a British judge tomorrow and is being funded by the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission, will force a change in policy and prevent other potential victims from having to endure a similar experience.

"The university has carved out a specific exception only for the most severe forms of sexual assault, which overwhelmingly affect women," she told The Daily Telegraph.

"That is blatantly discriminatory. I want the university to remove the special exception that they've created and develop a system to investigate internally cases of sexual assault.

"I'm not going to get justice on an individual level but if I can make it even slightly easier for the next person, then I will feel like something constructive has come out of all the pain and the difficulty and the challenges of the last four years," she said.

Ramey, who lives in Washington DC, was studying for a Masters in African Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford, when she reported that she was raped by a fellow student in June 2011.

She was told that the college could not take action unless the incident had been reported to the police and so went to Thames Valley Police to give a statement.

The alleged perpetrator was suspended but three months later, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced its decision not to pursue the case due to a lack of evidence and the perceived likelihood of conviction.

According to court papers, the university admitted that while it would consider each case on its merits, it would be unlikely to conduct its own investigation into an allegation of serious assault that has already been the subject of a police investigation.

Ramey's application for judicial review argues that its guidelines on harassment fail to comply with equality laws.

"The University is robustly defending this application on all grounds and Ramey's application has already been refused permission on the papers.

"The harassment policy was developed through consultation with students and other interested parties and had regard to practice across UK higher education generally," spokesperson from Oxford University said.

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