Suit alleges UAH leaders discourage sexual assault victims from filing charges

Lasse Uusivirta (Source: Metro Jail)
Lasse Uusivirta (Source: Metro Jail)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A UAH student reportedly raped by a school hockey player has filed a Title IX Federal Lawsuit against the University and three of the University's employees. The lawsuit accuses University leaders of creating an environment where students who are sexually assaulted are discouraged from pursuing charges.

The lawsuit states the unnamed student was raped by Lasse Uusivirta, a UAH Hockey Player, in January 2013. The woman said she consumed wine at student housing and did not think it was safe to drive to her off campus apartment. She said she phoned a friend who allowed her to spend the night at her dorm. The alleged victim said she was awakened by a man she didn't know who said the dorm was unsafe and she needed to leave. The court document states she left with him, went to another location, and laid down. She said that's when she was raped.

The filing states during an interview at the UAH Police Department, a UAH police officer told the victim that "people who hang out at hockey dorms share girls all the time." The woman claims the officer told her he knew she believed she had been "wronged," but made it clear he did not believe her.

According to the court document, officers interviewed Uusivirta who acknowledged having sex with the woman and said that she "seemed to be drunk and didn't know what was going on." The document also states the hockey player admitted she was incapable of giving consent.

The alleged victim claims the UAH officer informed the victim that she had no case in a court of law and that she would never win in court. She said she was advised not to pursue criminal charges, but to go through the UAH disciplinary system.

The lawsuit states the UAH Student Conduct Board determined Uusivirta's athletic scholarship should be revoked and he should be expelled. Uusivirta appealed the decision and was allowed to stay on campus.

Attorneys said the alleged victim saw Uusivirta on campus. The filing states she was terrified and missed several classes.

According to court documents, the woman then decided to pursue criminal charges and Huntsville Police arrested Uusivirta. The lawsuit states a member of the coaching staff posted Uusivirta's bond. The documents also state a coach defended Uusivirta by posting the following statement on Twitter: "Things are not always as they seem. Be careful not to judge."

After bonding out of the Huntsville-Madison County Metro Jail, Uusivirta left the United States and returned to Finland. The District Attorney's office announced they would not pursue him in Finland, but would prosecute the case if he returned to the U.S.

The filing states the sex-based harassment was so severe it deprived the woman of educational opportunities. It also accuses university officials of subjecting the woman to a hostile environment.

WAFF 48 News reached out to UAH leaders. A school spokesperson said the university will not be issuing a comment at this time.

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