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5 students sue Howard Univ. for failure to protect them against sexual assault by employee

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Five Howard University students have sued the university for failing to respond appropriately to reports of sexual assault and harassment by a school employee.

George Bright-Abu, who supervised a work-study program, is now in jail, convicted of sexually assaulting two students, according to a statement released by the attorneys in the lawsuit.

Bright-Abu “sexually assaulted two full-time students during the 2010-2011 academic year. This included unwanted touching, flirting, fondling and degrading propositions of a sexual nature,” according to the statement.

The victims worked at a university library and were supervised by Bright-Abu.

“Everybody said this was typical of him,” said Mercedes Woodson, one of two women who say they were assaulted by the man.

The lawsuit charges that the victims reported Bright-Abu's sexually abusive and offensive comments to university officials, but the university failed to respond in a way that would protect the students and stop the behavior.

“He touched my breasts,” claims Rukayat Bello.

"When I saw her (upset) I said ‘it's time to do something,’" Woodson said.

The women say their complaints to supervisors were ignored. They eventually filed a police report.

"Howard University created a hostile and abusive working environment for all plaintiffs by continuing to employ Bright-Abu after being made aware of his ongoing physical and verbal sexual assault," said Christal Edwards, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.

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"When the University administration became aware of the allegations, we reported the case to the Metropolitan Police Department. The individual was subsequently charged and terminated from the university. We take the safety of our students very seriously," the university said in a statement to Fox5.

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