Stanford failed to stop sexual predator for years, lawsuit alleges

A lawsuit has accused Stanford University of systematic negligence in failing to stop years of sexual assault by an alleged predator against at least four female students.

The complaint, filed Monday, alleged college staff failed to connect the dots accusing the male student, identified only as "Mr. X," of numerous sexual assaults over the course of four years.

In many cases, staff implied the alleged victims were themselves to blame, according to the lawsuit, even suggesting that one of them should take a drive to the beach to "deal with her rape."

After years of warnings, Stanford did eventually find Mr. X responsible for several charges of sexual assault, the lawsuit said, banning him from campus and imposing no-contact orders, according to the suit. But the university still awarded him both his bachelor's and master's degrees.

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"By acting with deliberate indifference to that notice, Stanford subjected the women to sexual violence and deprived those women ... of equal access to educational opportunities," according to the suit, filed by advocacy group Equal Rights Advocates on behalf of one of the alleged victims at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Stanford suggested it was not able to act because one or more of the victims did not want to pursue formal charges, according to statement sent to The Mercury News.

"Without the cooperation of victims, regrettably the university is very limited in what it can do," the statement said. "Sexual assault and sexual misconduct is abhorrent and antithetical to the values of our campus — we take these matters very seriously and have zero tolerance for such violence."

NBC News has reached out to the university for comment.

Stanford was the focus of international attention earlier this year after former college swimmer Brock Turner was given six months behind bars after being convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault. He was released after serving three months.

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The plaintiff in Monday's suit, identified only as "Ms. Doe," started dating Mr. X around Nov. 2013, unaware that he had a history of alleged sexual assault, according to the complaint. It added that after ending the relationship months later, Ms. Doe was sexually assaulted by Mr. X after refusing his demands for oral sex.

She had no idea he was first accused of sexual assault in Sept. 2010, when he was alleged to have repeatedly sexually assaulted another female student, identified as "Ms. A," over the course of several months. The complaint said this culminated in Mr. X strangling Ms. A "nearly to the point of unconsciousness" before whispering "no one will notice when you die" and raping her.

Ms. A told several university officials about the allegations, one of whom noted she was wearing a sweater that revealed part of her shoulder and asked her to consider whether she "placed herself in potentially risky situations because she wanted to appear sexually available," according to the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, another suggested she take steps to "deal with her rape and improve her mental health, such as renting a car and going to a beach."