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Entries in Complaint (3)

Thursday
Sep222011

SeaWorld Fights Charges after Trainer's Death

Stockbyte/Thinkstock (file photo)(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- SeaWorld Orlando and federal officials are sparring in a Florida courtroom this week over charges that the popular theme park put its employees at risk by allowing them to perform shows in potentially dangerous conditions.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed an extensive complaint detailing the allegedly unsafe work environment at SeaWorld and said in court Wednesday that the theme park failed to keep proper documentation of whale behaviors that could endanger trainers.

The complaint comes on the heels of the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer who was violently drowned by a killer whale named Tilikum during a live show at the Orlando park in February 2010.

In a copy of the complaint provided to ABC News, OSHA specifically mentions the killer whale.

"At the Shamu Stadium pools animal trainers working with Tilikum, a killer whale with known aggressive tendencies and who was involved in the 1991 death of a whale trainer at a marine park in Vancouver, British Columbia, were exposed to struck-by and drowning hazards in that they were allowed unprotected contact with Tilikum," the complaint states.

SeaWorld vehemently denies the charges that it put its employees at risk.

"These allegations are completely baseless, unsupported by any evidence or precedent, and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care," wrote SeaWorld in a statement.

SeaWorld is asking that a judge throw out the three federal safety citations, which would not only slam the park with up to $75,000 in fines -- but also threaten its famous shows.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Yale Students React to Probe of Hostile Sexual Environment

Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Yale sophomore Lawrence Lin said a now-infamous email ranking the looks of freshmen women at Yale University was "completely 100 percent repugnant [and] inexcusable."

"To say that boys will be boys, and because boys will be boys, they should be given an excuse or given free license to do whatever they want," said Lin.  "I feel it's just allowed for this string of events that have occurred on campus to repeatedly unfold."

He and three other young men who attend the Ivy League university in New Haven, Connecticut talked with ABC News and shared their reactions to the 26-page Title IX complaint alleging a "hostile sexual environment on campus."  On Friday, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights said it would be conducting an investigation.

Three of the men said they knew a girl who had been sexually assaulted.  Three of them said they thought the university had let the offenders get away with it.

Lin said that "groups of people, especially women, are being targeted on campus" and that needs to be addressed.  "That sort of behavior is not acceptable," he said.

In September 2009, an email greeted the freshman class.  Called the "Preseason Scouting Report," it ranked incoming freshmen females' looks by how many beers it would take to have sex with them.

Last month, 16 Yale students and alumni filed the complaint, saying the email and the university's slow response to it is a prime example of how the university has failed to address sexual harassment on campus.

And the complaint says the email is just a very public tip of the iceberg.

The suit also describes misogynistic chants by men at the school, signs that read "We love Yale sluts" outside the school's women's center, and dozens of incidents of rape and sexual harassment about which little to nothing was done.

Title IX ensures equal rights at educational institutions that receive federal funding.  If the prestigious university is found to be non-compliant and doesn't fix the problem, it could lose more than $500 million in federal funding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Notre Dame University Hit With Second Sex Assault Complaint

Photo Courtesy - Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(SOUTH BEND, Ind.) -- Notre Dame University has been hit for a second time in recent months with accusations that it failed to properly investigate an allegation from a young woman that one of its students sexually assaulted her.

The charge is particularly sensitive for Notre Dame, one of the country's most prestigious Catholic universities, because the school is still reeling from the suicide of Elizabeth Seeberg.  Seeberg was a 19-year-old student at neighboring St. Mary's College who killed herself on Sept. 10, 2010 after Notre Dame did not aggressively pursue her sexual assault complaint, her family has said.

The Seeberg family issued a statement to ABC News on Friday saying "Notre Dame's investigatory process has failed another young woman entrusted to its care."

Both incidents occurred around the same period.  Seeberg claimed she was molested Aug. 31 and committed suicide 10 days later.

The new accusation claims another St. Mary's student was sexually assaulted on Sept. 4.  According to St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, the woman reported the attack to police within 24 hours, went to a hospital for a rape kit, and met there with Notre Dame police.

At the hospital she was also met by a sexual assault victim's advocate and a nurse trained in sexual assault protocols.

The student, whose name was not released, met again with Notre Dame police on Sept. 11 -- the day after Seeberg's suicide -- at which time she told police she wanted to press charges.

But this past week Dvorak's office told the young woman and her family that it would not proceed with a prosecution because of a lack of evidence.

That decision has angered the student's family.  The woman's father told the Chicago Tribune that he had met with the university's president and police to plead for a prosecution.

The woman, who admits she had been drinking before the alleged assault, told the Tribune that she felt the police were protecting the university instead of her.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio