Home | BaltimoreBrew.com
The Dripby Fern Shen12:17 pmOct 1, 20190

Women vow to refile sexual assault suit against UMBC and Baltimore County

U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow dismisses the complaint, calling it an “overambitious pleading”

Above: UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski, one of the defendants in a suit alleging that the school and Baltimore County mishandled rape allegations. (Fern Shen)

A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed last year by five women who alleged that UMBC and Baltimore County mishandled their reports of sexual assault.

Calling the suit an “overambitous pleading,” U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow gave the plaintiffs three weeks to file a more narrowly defined complaint.

Their attorney, Rignal W. Baldwin V, said he plans to do so, guided by Chasanow’s written opinion issued yesterday.

“This is just a step in the process. We intend to return with a narrower complaint and remain committed to getting justice and bringing these important issues to light,” Baldwin said.

The suit, filed in September 2018, charges that county and university officials have routinely failed to take sexual assault reports seriously and that they “conspired” in some cases to cover them up.

Authorities humiliated, intimidated and deceived women as part of an intentional effort to “cover up justifiable complaints of sexual assault,” the complaint alleges.

The suit includes some startling allegations, including that the three UMBC baseball team members alleged to have drugged and assaulted two women were interviewed by detectives at a Chick-fil-A.

It also charges that Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger dispatched police to a rape victim’s home to threaten her.

Shellenberger has declined to comment, saying the litigation is still pending.

In February, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski created the Sexual Assault Investigations Task Force “to examine current investigation and prosecution policies, practices and training related to sexual assault complaints, including the review of past case files.”

UMBC has not commented on the specific allegations. A spokeswoman has not yet returned The Brew’s request for comment on Chasanow’s ruling.

[UPDATE: UMBC has released this following statement: “We believe that the judge’s decision about the legal case is accurate and fair. Our campus remains committed to acting on our conviction that sexual- and gender-based violence will not be tolerated in our community.”]

News of the suit roiled the UMBC campus last September, prompting protests and drawing about 1,000 students to a campus theater and overflow space for a “listening session” organized by the administration.

Most Popular