Five female students have alleged in a lawsuit that Howard University failed to take action when a supervisor of a campus work-study program on campus allegedly sexually and verbally assaulted them.
According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the students, George Bright-Abu, a supervisor of the work-study program at The Founders Library on campus was accused last July of “unwanted touching, flirting, fondling and degrading propositions of a sexual nature.”
The students also reported the conduct to police. Bright-Abu was arrested, charged and found guilty of two counts of sexual abuse and one count of simple assault.
Graduate Mercedes Woodson, one of the victims, told NBC4 in Washington, D.C. that after she reported the abuse to university officials, they failed to investigate.
Bright-Abu “asked me to come into his office and he came pretty close to me and touched my chest area,” Woodson told the station. “I did say something and I rushed out.”
Another student, Rukayatu Bello, told the station that she was also assaulted at a later date, that she reported the incident to university officials and that nothing was done about it.
Bright-Abu “said inappropriate things to me,” said Bello, who also has since graduated. “He came on to me, was aroused, rubbed up against me, was trying to kiss me, all in his office.”
Both students filed a police report in April and Bright-Abu was arrested and charged.
Bright-Abu was tried and convicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced to serve 60 days for each count of sexual abuse and is serving 120 days in jail.
Since then, three other students have claimed they too were victims of Bright-Abu and the university had yet again failed to act on the information. They are filing a civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and abuse against Howard University and Bright-Abu.
The students’ lawsuit also asks for unspecified monetary damages.
In a statement to The Afro, Howard said it takes student safety seriously and moved to terminate Bright-Abu.
“While the University is unable to provide details on matters in current litigation, we can say that we take the safety of our students very seriously and have a strict sexual harassment policy in place. When the University administration became aware of the allegations, we worked closely with appropriate law enforcement authorities as well as conducted an internal investigation. The employee was quickly placed on administrative leave and later terminated from the University.”