Graduate student accuses Duquesne University of retaliation

Kasey Schefflin-Emrich Aug. 28, 2015, 2:04pm


An international graduate student is suing Duquesne University, alleging it discriminated and retaliated against her after she she said she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student.

Hemasudha Chatragadda filed a lawsuit August 10 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Duquesne University, alleging violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.

According to the complaint, Chatragadda, a native of India, began studying at Duquesne as a Ph.D. candidate in August 2010. During that time, the suit says, she was subjected to unwanted and persistent sexual advances by another graduate student, Kaylan Immadisetty, who is also a citizen of India and research assistant for the university.

According to the lawsuit, Immadisetty pressured her into having premarital sex and two abortions by threatening her and using physical violence. Chatragadda alleges that shortly after she moved into an apartment with roommates in December 2011 to avoid being raped, Immadisetty approached Chatragadda on the university's premises the following month and forcibly stole a school laptop assigned to her.

Following this incident, the lawsuit says, Chatragadda informed the university of the sexual abuse which led Immadisetty to harass her in order to pressure her into retracting her allegations. Chatragadda alleges the university took no disciplinary action against Immadisetty and that it even retaliated against her by trying to expel her from its graduate program.

The plaintiff alleges the university failed her on the original research proposal exam and she was denied the opportunity to retake it until she passed. She was told she could only re-enter the Ph.D. program after completing a second master's degree, the lawsuit states. The university also stopped paying her TA-stipend and giving her part-time work, which left her unable to financially support herself, the suit says.

As the result of the university's discriminatory and retaliation actions, the complaint states the plaintiff endured debilitating emotional distress, humiliation, physical and psychological injuries, loss of income and loss of enjoyment of life.

Chatragadda seeks reinstatement into the Ph.D. program, punitive damages, lost compensation in the value of the TA stipend she was supposed to receive, attorney fees and court costs. She is represented by attorney David Kobylinski of Praetorian Law Group in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:15-cv-01051-CRE.

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