LSU students protest sexual misconduct allegations involving French Studies Department on campus
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Dozens of LSU students marched on campus, Monday, October 18, in response to allegations of sexual assault and harassment, involving the Louisiana State University French Studies Department.
The department chair of the French Studies program, Adelaide Russo, has been removed from that position, according to an email obtained by WAFB, from the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
RELATED STORY: Latest LSU Title IX lawsuit has ties to Rapides Parish
After six women filed a lawsuit claiming LSU didn’t fully investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment, against a former grad student from France.
LSU students marched from the Parade Grounds to Hodges Hall, the home of the French Studies Department, to protest sexual misconduct allegations against a former grad student from France, Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros, back during his time at the university.
“To have to go and create a new group for students, because a sexual predator was running a group while faculty administration was aware of it, is unacceptable at the least. And it’s vile,” said Miranda Albarez, LSU senior.
Attorney Mimi Methvin has filed a Title IX lawsuit against LSU. Claiming multiple LSU administrators, including the now-former French Studies chair Adelaide Russo, did not do enough to prevent the alleged sexual predator from preying on students.
“On behalf of six clients, one professor, two grad students and three undergrad students here at LSU, who were all either sexually assaulted or harassed, or retaliated against for reporting Edward,” said Methvin.
d’Arros was arrested for sexual battery and rape of a UL student back in 2018, during a Catholic retreat in Rapides Parish. That was before his time at LSU.
“This is a story of a predator who was allowed by every institution to do whatever he wanted to victims,” said Methvin.
D’Espalungue would ultimately be indicted by a grand jury for third-degree rape in Feb. 2021. His arraignment was set for April, but d’Espalungue had been granted permission to travel back to France by Judge Chris Hazel to visit his family for the holidays and never returned to the United States.
But while there have been a number of changes recently to the Title IX Office at LSU, Methvin says more work needs to be done.
“We want our clients compensated. But we also want the LSU system changed. Stopping Edward was the second goal, and improving the Title IX program at LSU, is the third goal,” said Methvin.
Organizations like the Lighthouse Prom on LSU’s campus are available to help survivors.
“Ig you’re thinking about reporting, if you’re thinking you need resources and support, we’re a place you can come hear about those options, and then make a decision if you want resources and support,” said Susan Bareis, Director of the Lighthouse Program at LSU.
LSU gave WAFB a statement that reads, “I am supportive of and welcome any act or statement of support for survivors of sexual assault and other types of power-based violence. The Office of Civil Rights & Title IX is committed to handling every case reported to us using trauma-informed practices and supporting those who have been harmed. This protest is a reminder of our accountability to the students and employees at LSU and provides yet another opportunity for us to reflect and improve upon past practices.” - Jane Cassidy, PhDInterim Vice President for Civil Rights & Title IX
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