Lawsuit Alleges LSU Did Little to Address Rape Allegations Against Student

A lawsuit filed against officials at Louisiana State University alleges that the school did little to address the allegations of rape and sexual harassment against one if its graduate students, the Associated Press reported. Three undergraduate students, two graduate students and a professor filed the lawsuit last week.

Two of the undergraduate students say that they were raped by Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros, a French graduate student at LSU, the AP reported. The other women say that d'Espalungue targeted them with harassment, unwanted physical contact or retaliation.

He is no longer in the United States, having left while facing charges for the rape of another woman in Rapides Parish. The six plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that complaints they made to LSU's Title IX office, which is responsible for investigating any breaches of federal law involving sexual discrimination, did not go anywhere.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

LSU Lawsuit
A federal lawsuit says Louisiana State University did too little to address allegations of sexual harassment and assault against a French graduate student, even after learning he had been arrested on a rape charge in central Louisiana. The LSU logo is seen on a helmet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 6, 2014. Jonathan Bachman/AP Photo

LSU removed the chair of its Department of French Studies a week after the women filed the lawsuit, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Adelaide Russo was removed "effective immediately," according to an email that LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Troy Blanchard sent to colleagues and obtained by the The Advocate. Russo remains an LSU professor but is on sabbatical.

Russo and Blanchard are among the LSU officials sued last week by the six plaintiffs.

The lawsuit says LSU learned of the pending rape allegation in Rapides Parish no later than October 10, 2018, citing local news reports. It says d'Espalungue was removed as a graduate teaching assistant by Blanchard. But, the suit says, Russo effectively kept d'Espalungue in contact with students in a variety of ways, involving him in department programs such as French Table and French Movie Night and having him run social media accounts for the LSU French Club.

The suit, filed October 4, names the LSU Board of Supervisors and five officials as defendants. None of the defendants had responded to the lawsuit in court as of Thursday morning. A request for comment from the defendants was declined by LSU.

News outlets reported that d'Espalungue was permitted by a state judge in Rapides Parish to travel to France last year—well after his 2018 arrest, but before he was indicted in February on a charge of third-degree rape. The alleged victim in that case is a University of Louisiana-Lafayette student who said d'Espalungue raped her while both were attending a religious retreat in Rapides Parish.

An arrest warrant has been issued for d'Espalungue, but the prospects of forcing him to return to Louisiana are unclear.

LSU Campus
A lawsuit filed against officials at Louisiana State University alleges that the school did little to address the allegations of rape and sexual harassment against one if its graduate students. Students at Louisiana State University make their way at the LSU Union March 14, 2003 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images