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Louisiana State University Sued for Protecting Harasser

Six individuals have filed a federal lawsuit against Louisiana State University (LSU) for violating their rights under Title IX. The group includes five current and former students as well as one professor. The lawsuit alleges Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros (Arros), a graduate student and employee in the French studies department, raped an LSU student in 2020. Arros was 30 years old at the time, and the victim was 20 years old. LSU suspended d’Arros for one year following the rape charge. The lawsuit also alleges Arros was arrested for sexual battery and second-degree (forcible) rape of a 21-year old student at another local institution. Over a three-year period, Arros allegedly subjected the five students in the lawsuit to “unwelcome sexual harassment, including quid pro quo harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape.” His behavior towards students included commenting about their bodies, marital status, weight, sexual history, and physical appearance. They also alleged he sent sexualized and improper text messages and followed them to their cars. They alleged he retaliated against them for reporting or declining his advances by blocking them from LSU French Club social media accounts.

The complainants asserted LSU had notice that Arros “posed a substantial risk of sexual harassment and severe harm to students based on his arrest for sexual battery.” His arrest was “incontrovertible evidence.” They claim that while LSU removed him from teaching one course, they continued to allow him to work for the university and access LSU students from a leadership position. The French department chair, Adelaide Russo, is also named in the lawsuit. She made Arros her personal research assistant, giving him “greater influence and prestige.” She allegedly met with French department grad students and faculty and told them that Arros was innocent. Two of the plaintiffs stated they reported Arros’ sexually harassing conduct to Russo. She purportedly “dismissed these claims and made clear she was irritated by the reports.” She allegedly told one individual to consider Arros’s sexual comments as a “compliment.” The individuals claim LSU never investigated their complaints, and no measures were put into place to protect them.

This lawsuit is the third Title IX lawsuit filed against LSU filed within the last year. The other two suits focused on sexual misconduct allegations in the athletics department.