LSU mishandles sexual assault and harassment complaints, removes French Studies chair after lawsuit

Crime

BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — LSU appears to be in hot water once again for reportedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment complaints, resulting in removing the French Studies chair.

According to the suit, six women over the course of several years fought to get their voices heard at LSU. According to them, their complaints of sexual harassment, assaults, and concerns for student safety were greatly ignored until now.

The suit claims it all started in 2018 when a French graduate student, Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros, was accused of rape, sexual harassment, and assault. Two undergraduates said d’Espalungue raped them.

Despite all this, Chair of the Department of French Studies Dr. Adelaide Russo hired the alleged predator and, according to the suit, protected him during his career at the university.

One of the women in the suit, a professor in the French Department, allegedly filed multiple complaints with various LSU officials between 2018 and 2021, including texting Dean Troy Blanchard stating in part, “the students are not being protected.”

LSU is accused of taking no action in response to this information.

D’Arros was eventually suspended in 2020 for one year, according to court documents, and later left for France while he was facing charges relating to the rape of a seventh woman in Rapides Parish.

This case focuses the attention on Russo, the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, LSU Title IX Coordinator Jennie Stewart, Dr. Troy Blanchard, LSU Executive Director of Employee Relations Jennifer Normand, LSU Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employee for HRM Lindsay Madatic.

The plaintiffs say their complaints to LSU’s Title IX office, charged with looking into violations of federal law involving sexual discrimination, went nowhere.

LSU removed Russo as the department chair and she is currently on sabbatical for reasons unrelated to this case, according to an email that LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Troy Blanchard sent to colleagues.

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