A Louisiana woman is suing three universities in her state, arguing the schools failed to follow a state law that would have prevented her from becoming a victim of sexual assault.
The woman, who identifies herself as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, is suing the boards of supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, LSU, and Lafayette Parish consolidated government for failing to notify each other of the presence of an alleged serial sexual offender who transferred between the schools.
In 2015, while facing an accusation of sexual assault, LSU freshman Victor Daniel Silva transferred to University of Louisiana at Lafayette. While at his new school, Silva was arrested for sexual assault and placed on academic probation. Silva later transferred to Louisiana Tech University, where he was once again accused of sexually assaulting a female student. He dropped out of school three days after the woman reported the crime, so the school never investigated it.
“Unknown to Ms. Doe at that time, from 2014 to 2018, and before Ms. Doe ever met Silva, five women had reported Silva to Louisiana public universities and law enforcement for rape and other criminal sexual misconduct,” the lawsuit states.
In her lawsuit, Doe says each school violated a state law that requires schools to alert one another when is found guilty of sexually-related crimes. The law says each school must “communicate with each other regarding transfer of students against whom disciplinary action has been taken as a result of a code of conduct violation relating to sexually-oriented criminal offenses.”
The law requiring schools to communicate with one another was passed in 2015. It required universities and local law enforcement agencies to notify each other when alleged sex crimes involving students occurred.
But evidence has mounted that schools have failed to comply with the law’s provisions.
“It is impressively embarrassing to our state,” said J.P. Morrell, a former state senator who sponsored the 2015 law. “At best, it is a complete, callous disregard for what victims are going through — and not just what they’re going through, but what the future victims will go through, as these predators find new victims,” Morrell told USA Today last year.
“At worst, it’s almost malicious.”
According to the rape complaint against Silva while he was a student at LSU in 2015, he had spent the night drinking with a female student who later let him into her dorm room. According to the woman, Silva held her down with his body weight and raped her three times over the course of three hours.
LSU police arrested Silva, but formal charges were never brought and the case disappeared. LSU later discovered Silva had been accused of rape by another woman earlier in the year, but they also declined to prosecute him.
Silva then transferred to UL, but according to the lawsuit, LSU did not tell his new school about the prior accusations against him.
Two years later, two more women came forward to issue complaints against Silva – one for an incident during his time at Lafayette and one from 2010, when Silva and the woman were both 14 years old.
Silva then transferred to Louisiana Tech, where he is accused of raping Doe. She had attended a party at his apartment and had drunk too much to drive home, so she slept over. While Silva said he was going to sleep on the couch, Doe said she woke up with him peeling her clothes off and raping her.
Doe’s lawsuit accuses the universities of violating Title IX, the federal law that prohibits institutions from discrimination based on gender. She seeks an undetermined amount of monetary damages.
IMAGE: AfricaStudio / Shutterstock
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