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Thursday, May 06, 2021
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Jacobs School of Medicine accused of failing to take action in sexual violence case

Plaintiff claims fellow resident sexually assaulted, harassed her

The plaintiff says UB failed to conduct an investigation and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion never contacted her about her complaints.
The plaintiff says UB failed to conduct an investigation and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion never contacted her about her complaints.

A Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences resident is alleging in a lawsuit that Amil Akl, a fellow resident, groomed, sexually harassed and sexually assaulted her, and that the school “ignored its [own] policies” when it failed to take action.

The lawsuit, filed in the Erie County Supreme Court, states that the plaintiff “seeks to hold her abuser — and the program that has allowed this abuse to continue — accountable.” The alleged victim claims Akl inappropriately touched her, verbally berated her and coerced her into having sex with him.

The plaintiff claims she told her program director about the abuse and harassment in December 2019, but that nothing came of her complaint. She says UB failed to conduct an investigation and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion never contacted her about her complaints. She also says Akl was never disciplined for his alleged misconduct.

“Simply put, UB and UMRS wholly failed to take any appropriate steps to inform [the plaintiff] of her rights, to engage in a thorough and impartial investigation and adjudication of her report and to protect [the plaintiff] and others from Akl’s abuse,” the lawsuit reads.

Akl, a second-year medical resident, is still listed on the medical school’s website.

“There is evidence he improperly touched our client,” Lisa Coppola, the alleged victim’s attorney, told WKBW, who first reported the story. “Improperly touched not only her face, her neck, her hair, her breasts, at one occasion, as we described in our complaint, he was touching her groin area, her upper thigh.”

The lawsuit says that at least 15 people witnessed Akl’s alleged misconduct, but that UB didn’t take statements from any of them.

In a statement, the university said it “will not disclose case-specific facts or details about any pending litigation.” But, UB detailed its investigatory process and noted its sexual violence training and programs.

“The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is responsible for ensuring UB’s compliance with laws, rules, regulations and policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual violence in UB programs and activities,” the statement reads. “EDI will investigate reports of discrimination and harassment, including sexual violence. Under laws and policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment, the university must conduct investigations in a manner that protects the rights of all parties to a complaint.”

UB received 62 reports of sexual violence in 2019, according to the statement. Eighteen of these students chose redress through UB’s conduct process; nine were found guilty. 

The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com

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JUSTIN WEISS
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Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.

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