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Slain Yale student's family sues, says school failed to protect women

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Did Yale fail to protect student?
  • Yale graduate student Annie Le's body was found inside a wall at a Yale lab building
  • Former lab technician Raymond Clark III pleaded guilty to murder and attempted sexual assault
  • The suit claims Yale created a culture of tolerance that allowed aggressive male behavior
  • Yale says the suit has "no basis" and had no information Clark could commit such a crime

(CNN) -- The family of a Yale pharmacology student who was killed by a lab technician shortly before her wedding day has sued the university, saying it failed to protect women on its campus.

Annie Le, 24, was reported missing on September 8, 2009. Her strangled body was found stuffed inside a wall of a campus lab building five days later.

Former Yale University lab technician Raymond Clark III has been sentenced to 44 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to the murder and attempted sexual assault of Le.

Both Yale University and the Yale School of Medicine are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court in Connecticut.

"Prior to September 8, 2009, Yale had long taken inadequate steps to ensure the safety and security of women on its campus," the complaint states. "Sexual attacks on and harassment of women at Yale had been well-documented and longstanding problem, and there was a widespread belief that Yale repeatedly failed to impose meaningful discipline on offenders. As a result, Yale created a culture of tolerance that allowed and encouraged aggressive male behavior towards women."

The suit also cited a Title IX complaint filed by students against the university "which highlighted Yale's failure to adequately prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assaults on female students at Yale. A federal investigation of Yale's conduct in this regard is ongoing."

But the university said the suit has "no basis."

"Yale had no information indicating that Raymond Clark was capable of committing this terrible crime, and no reasonable security measures could have prevented his unforeseeable act," Yale said in a statement.

"Annie Le's murder shocked and deeply saddened the entire Yale community. As a community we united to support and comfort her family and loved ones, and create a lasting memorial to her life. This lawsuit serves neither justice nor Annie's memory, and the University will defend against it as appropriate."

Le had planned to marry Columbia graduate student Jonathan Widawsky on the day her body was found.

Clark was not a Yale student but had worked as a lab technician at the university since 2004, after graduating from high school. He lived with his girlfriend, who also was a Yale lab technician, according to police.

A Yale faculty member had described Clark's job as maintaining colonies for animals used in research.

CNN's Maggie Schneider contributed to this report