Student expands allegations Penn State failed to adequately address her rape claim

WILLIAMSPORT – A Penn State student has expanded her allegations that the university failed to adequately address her “train rape” claim and that she was treated differently in classes because she is African American.

Kayla Williams, from Allegheny County, on Monday in an amended complaint filed in U.S. Middle District, provided more details on the allegations she made in the original one in February.

Since then Williams has been suspended for the spring and summer semesters because a Title IX panel found she harassed a former roommate and assaulted a ride-share driver.

The panel made its decision without requiring the accusers to attend a hearing, Williams points out.

Penn State does not comment on ongoing litigation and cannot for privacy reasons provide information on student disciplinary actions, spokesperson Lisa M. Powers said Tuesday.

The university had asked Judge Matthew W. Brann to dismiss the initial complaint calling it rambling, conclusory and legally deficient.

Williams continues to take issue with the investigation into her claim she was raped while intoxicated by two male students in an apartment on Jan. 15, 2017.

Her suit claims police after speaking with one of the alleged rapists concluded everything was consensual.

She was taken to a hospital where she was given a rape kit and her blood alcohol content was .192 or nearly three times the legal amount to drive.

Frustrated by what she perceived as Penn State’s inaction investigating the rape in April 2018 she used Twitter to accuse the university of hiding how bad rape is on campus.

A Title IX decision panel could not determine if the encounter was consensual but suggested the alleged rapist might be charged with a Code of Conduct violation.

Williams accuses the Office of Student Conduct of not following up on that recommendation. The second male left school and was not subjected to discipline.

Her restated allegations against Brendan Prawdzik, an English professor, include the accusation he tried to talk her out of writing about racism when she selected that topic last August for a semester research assignment.

The court complaint alleges he told her minorities are partly at fault for the systematic racism they experience. He did not meet with other students to ask them to change their topics, Williams claims.

In part due to her rape experience, she said she used Penn State’s mental health treatment services for emotional distress, depression and anxiety. That caused her to miss classes.

Her suit claims when Prawdzik in front of the class asked for her health records she requested a private meeting to provide him data on her absences.

Williams claims Prawdzik stormed out of the room; she followed him into the hall where he told her she was a disruption, kicked her out of class and threatened to call the police if she did not leave.

Among the relief that Williams seeks in her suit is the removal from her transcript of the “F” that Prawdzik gave her for the class.

Williams also restates her claim she was treated differently this January in a grading disparity of a psychology quiz but the amended complaint does not name the instructor as a defendant as did the original one.

The amended complaint goes into detail on how Williams claims she was treated unfairly by a Title IX panel after accused of harassing a former roommate and assaulting a ride-share driver.

She cites the inability to speak to her adviser during the Feb. 21 hearing and to question her accusers because they were not present.

Williams appealed the panel’s decision to suspend her, claiming the evidence did not support that action.

She claims she was not permitted to have a recording of the panel’s hearing to prepare her appeal and March 19 was notified of her suspension by Yvonne Gaudelius, senior associate dean for undergraduate education.

The amended civil rights complaint seeks unspecified damages from the university; Prawdzik; Gaudelius; Karen Feldman, senior director of the Office of Student Conduct; and Lauren Langford, assistant director in that office.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $3.69/week.

Subscribe Today