The UCSB student who was brutally gang raped on the edge of campus two years ago filed a personal-injury lawsuit this week against the university.
The complaint, drafted by Santa Barbara attorney Josh Lynn, alleges the then 19-year-old woman — identified only as Jane Doe in court files — was “savagely beaten and raped” by three men, who remain at large, for hours. The attack occurred near the track and tennis courts on campus in an area covered by dark, overgrown foliage that purportedly did not have a surveillance camera.
Lynn said the victim was walking with her boyfriend late on February 22, 2014 in Isla Vista near campus. She somehow got separated from him, Lynn said, and was abducted by apparently three men who brought her “nearby to a darkened tunnel-like area behind the fence under the absolute cover of darkness.” The suspects were strangers to the victim. During the brutal assault, she suffered a broken nose and blunt trauma to her knees, among other things, and contracted genital herpes, according to the lawsuit. “She went in and out of consciousness,” Lynn said. She managed to escape at 4 a.m. She ran home and called the police.
The UCSB Police Department handled the case. After the attack, they released sketches of Asian males in their early twenties. The victim took a rape kit for one of the three, but there have been no DNA matches. Lynn alleges the UCSB Police Department failed to provide a detailed report of the investigation to the victim. Lynn further contends that though this case was reputed to be the “worst case of sexual assault” at UCSB, the police department “did not reach out to a better equipped law enforcement agency to assist with the investigation and management of the case.”
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada declined to comment on the pending litigation, citing university policy. She added students’ well-being is their highest priority. “And while we cannot pretend to comprehend the depth of pain and anguish our student has endured, we continue to offer our heartfelt sympathy and unwaveringly and persistently provide as much support as we possibly can,” she said.
Shortly after the 2014 assault, bushes and shrubbery in the area were cut down. Chancellor Henry Yang promised to augment their 29-person police force with five new officers. That year, the security-planning firm Kroll completed a study of lighting, shrubbery, and other aspects of the campus. Later that year, after riots, civil unrest, and mass murder tainted the college community, a months-long study funded by the UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustees recommended, among many things, improved lighting and surveillance camera plans.
Estrada added: “Our campus is committed to fostering a community in which everyone works and learns together in a place free of harassment, exploitation, and intimidation and has long had in place programs and services devoted to educating students, faculty, and staff and to responding to sexual violence. We strive to ensure that all of our processes — investigative and otherwise — are sensitive and survivor-centered, and we offer continued and dedicated support and counseling services to assault survivors. While this remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation, our campus would like to again ask the community to report any information related to this incident.”
Editor’s note: The original posting has been replaced with an extended report.