Warning: Some readers may find details in this article triggering.
Amelia Roskin-Frazee was only a few months into her first year at Columbia University when she says she was raped in her own bed. Two months later, Roskin-Frazee says she was raped again in her dorm room by the same man she believes attacked her the first time. Now a sophomore, Roskin-Frazee is taking legal action against Columbia for allegedly mishandling her case.
“I have nightmares every night, if I can sleep at all,” Roskin-Frazee told The Huffington Post. “Every moment of every day, I feel flashbacks and pain in my body.”
On Tuesday, Roskin-Frazee sued the university for negligence, gross negligence and violating Title IX.
According to the lawsuit, Roskin-Frazee woke up on Oct. 5, 2015 to a man raping her while covering her face with a pillow. She was in so much pain she passed out. The second rape allegedly occurred on Dec. 14, 2015. According to the complaint, she walked into her dorm room and was pushed to the ground from behind. Roskin-Frazee’s attacker then removed her clothes, tied her hands above her head using a phone charger cord and allegedly began penetrating her with multiple foreign objects including a hairbrush, scissors and a razor. As the man was assaulting her, he whispered into her ear: “Still a dyke?”
Roskin-Frazee, an out lesbian, told HuffPost her attacker made it “very clear” he was targeting her because of her sexuality. “It made me feel like I brought this on myself by being an LGBTQ rights activist and openly lesbian, which made me more ashamed of my assaults happening,” she said. “I’m scared to go to meetings for LGBTQ students on campus because I’m worried it will make me a target.”
According to the complaint, directly after the second assault, Roskin-Frazee began receiving notes that read: “Isn’t it fun to wake up to someone fucking you?” and “I’ll buy you a new phone charger.”
The lawsuit alleges that the university mishandled the case in multiple ways. After the first assault, Roskin-Frazee did not file a report to the school but she did seek medical treatment and counseling.
According to a BuzzFeed report, this is what happened after the first attack:
Roskin-Frazee sought to move out of her dormitory. But according to the complaint, she was told she would have to be ready to move upon 24 hours’ notice, pay $500, and that her parents would have to be notified as to the reason why. According to the lawsuit, the Sexual Violence Response nurse and a therapist from the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services never told Roskin-Frazee about her rights or options under Title IX — as required by federal law.
(To read BuzzFeed’s full outline of the case head here).
After the second assault, Roskin-Frazee decided to make a formal complaint to the university, but she says Columbia told her they would not investigate the report because she couldn’t identify her rapist. According to the complaint, the university didn’t open an investigation into the attacks until almost a year later (September 2016) and only after Roskin-Frazee applied pressure to the school to look into her case.
On Oct. 7, 2016 ― 26 days into the school’s investigation ― Columbia stopped their search. According to the complaint, Roskin-Frazee was told that “investigators had not interviewed anybody, did not review the swipe logs for her dormitory building for the nights of her respective sexual assaults, and could not review any security camera footage because the footage had been erased due to the length of time that had passed since [the] Plaintiff’s assaults.”
Roskin-Frazee told HuffPost she believes there are multiple things Columbia could have done to prevent her second assault and the subsequent harassment she experienced.
“They should have investigated in October 2015 and early December 2015. They should have made housing accommodations accessible so I could move out of the dorm room where I was assaulted,” she said. “They should have provided prompt safety and academic accommodations, rather than make me relive my assaults repeatedly by explaining myself to my professors and fearing accommodations not being granted.”
“I'm fearful every day that he'll find me and assault me again.”
During a press conference on Tuesday, Roskin-Frazee told reporters: “To be blunt, I’m suing Columbia because I’m angry.”
According to Roskin-Frazee’s complaint, during this period of time her grades dropped dramatically, she missed classes and assignments and became reclusive.
Columbia University spokesperson Robert Hornsby told HuffPost the school could not comment on pending litigation. “None of this diminishes the deep concern we feel about any allegation of assault on our campuses,” he added.
For her part, Roskin-Frazee says she still lives with the trauma of her assaults on a daily basis.
“I’m fearful every day that he’ll find me and assault me again,” she said.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.