Two female Warwick students sue for hundreds of thousands of pounds

Two female students sue Warwick University for hundreds of thousands of pounds after being subjected to vile rape threats in WhatsApp group chat

  • 11 students were in sick group that saw rape threats and sexist comments made
  • Dr Ann Olivarius is representing two victims who were mentioned in messages
  • She said other cases at other universities have settled for £100,000 per student
  • It comes after BBC documentary revealed how victims discovered messages

Dr Ann Olivarius (pictured in Cambridge in October 2015) is a top employment lawyer

Two female students are suing Warwick University for hundreds of thousands of pounds over the rape threat scandal.

Eleven undergraduates were part of the sick WhatsApp messaging group that saw anti-Semitic and sexist comments made, as well as threats about rape.

Today it emerged top British-American employment lawyer Dr Ann Olivarius is representing two victims who were mentioned in some of the messages.

Dr Olivarius, who specialises in sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits against universities, told The Tab: ‘We are quite prepared to go to court. Other cases at other universities have settled for around £100,000 per student.’

Dr Olivarius announced she was taking the Warwick University case after a BBC Three documentary revealed how one of the victims discovered the vile messages.  

Lawyer Dr Olivarius tweeted that she is ‘so proud to represent these incredible young women’

The lawyer made legal history when she brought a lawsuit against Yale University in 1980 and is a leading authority on fighting sexual harassment.

Dr Olivarius tweeted: ‘We are so proud to represent these incredible young women. 

‘To everyone who’s expressed outrage, disbelief and anger over their treatment by the university and the young men in question – please rest assured that this story is not over.’

In the documentary, one of the victims, called Anna, told how she discovered her close male friends had mentioned her name in the messages.

Chilling posts in the group chat included one saying: ‘Rape the whole flat to teach them a lesson’, while another read: ‘Oh God. I would hate to be in the firing line if I had a vagina.’

Eleven undergraduates were part of the sick WhatsApp group, which included these messages

The messages saw one joke: ‘Rape her friends too. Sometimes it’s fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls.’

Another added: ‘Rape the whole flat to teach them all lesson.’

While the sick message stated: ‘What do we do with girls? RAAAAAAAAPE.’

Another message said: ‘I swear to god if it’s that girl in my flat, I’m going to go all 1945 advancing Soviet Army on her and rape her in the street whilst everybody watches.’

Another friend said: ‘Rape her and run.’

The students made racist, antisemitic and misogynistic remarks which were made public

Responding, another said: ‘I think I would have disabled her. Hahaha. Knock her out, the stupid sl*t.’

Speaking about how she found out about the messages, Anna said: ‘We were sat in my apartment and he had his laptop out.

‘He kept getting all of these messages through from this other mixed group chat.

‘Obviously I can see them popping through and they were not nice messages and he just laughed at me and he said, ‘well if you think that’s bad, you might want to see our lads chat.’

‘He then proceeded to show me the lads group chat as if he were showing off, as if it were something that he should’ve been proud of and that I was going to be impressed by how vulgar and horrendous it was.

In a recent BBC Three documentary, one of the victims, called Anna, told how she discovered her close male friends had mentioned her name in the messages. 

‘That’s when he took me through a year-and-a-half worth of rape threats.’

Anna, who is in her third year at the university, said the trauma of reporting the messages made her feel like she was being ‘punished’.

She said: ‘The university caused so much pain and so much damage and this is carrying on over a year later.

‘The trauma of feeling strong enough to come forward and being punished for that by the university is probably the most damaging part of this.

‘I don’t want to go to my graduation. I just can’t wait to never have to go to Warwick ever again.’

Five students in total were suspended – with two banned for ten years, two excluded for one year and one given a lifetime ban.

Dr Olivarius’s website says she has ‘brought many cases in this area, challenging universities when they have failed in their duty to protect their students from sexual harassment and campus rape.’

She said: ‘There has been a serious lack of leadership and moral courage in the people doing the investigation.’

‘These girls have been unnecessarily hurt. There has been terrible abuse and terrible harm done unnecessarily.

‘We aren’t doing this to chase money, we’re doing it to do the right thing. People have been improperly treated.’

Anna was close friends with a number of men involved in the chat and had even been on holiday with them and invited them to her family home at Christmas

She also blasted the university’s head of press Peter Dunn who was responsible for dealing with the media and protecting Warwick’s reputation.

As investigating officer, he was responsible for examining misconduct allegations and recommending which punishments – if any – the men should face.

In February, the university admitted ‘the potential for conflict’ between Dunn’s two roles, but insisted relevant press duties were ‘delegated’ during the investigation.

Dr Olivarius tweeted: ‘You can imagine a situation where the press officer thinks: ‘Well, I think the just thing to do would be to do this.

‘But if I put my press officer hat on that won’t look good in terms of their perception and the reputation of the university.’

Today, a university spokesman: ‘We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Warwick community and we take complaints of sexual misconduct extremely seriously. 

Warwick University said it is ‘committed to ensuring the safety of the Warwick community’

‘We investigate any complaint thoroughly in line with UUK guidelines and, first and foremost, we always aim to ensure the wellbeing of members of our community. We acted in accordance with these principles and procedures in the group chat case.

‘We are undertaking an independent review of our disciplinary processes, and a review to re-affirm our community’s values, what is and is not acceptable behaviour in our community and to consider how we can encourage positive behaviours. 

‘We are working alongside all members of our community, including students, staff and alumni, as well as other institutions in the sector, to effectively address issues such as these and any shortcomings identified during this process.

‘We continue to support the Investigating Officer for this case, Peter Dunn. We appreciate there are legitimate questions raised about the University’s handling of this extremely delicate case, and we hope that the publication of the outcome of our reviews in summer 2019 will enable the University to seek to answer those concerns, demonstrate our learnings and help our community to better live our values.’

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