Light & Verity

University sued over Annie Le murder

The estate of Annie Le ’13PhD, the graduate student who was murdered while working in a Yale lab building two years ago, filed a wrongful death suit against the university in September. The suit seeks unspecified damages “significantly greater” than the $15,000 minimum for a suit in Connecticut’s Superior Court.

Le, a pharmacology student, was reported missing on September 8, 2009; her body was found five days later inside a wall in the medical school’s Amistad Street Building. (See “The Death of Annie Le,” November/December 2009.) On September 17, police arrested Raymond Clark III, an employee at the lab, and charged him with the murder. Last March, he pleaded guilty to killing Le and was sentenced to 44 years in prison.

The complaint alleges, among other things, that Yale was negligent in hiring Clark, who “had previously demonstrated aggressive behavior and a violent propensity towards women” about which Yale “knew or should have known.” (Clark had no prior criminal record.) Other charges: the university did not adequately provide for Le’s safety, and it fostered “an atmosphere of tolerance of sexual harassment and sexual assaults that emboldened Clark and left Ms. Le vulnerable to his attack.” To support the last claim, the suit cites a recent federal Title IX complaint against Yale over its policies on sexual harassment and assault. (See our July/August issue.)

University spokesman Tom Conroy said in a statement that “there is no basis for the suit” and that Yale will “defend against it as appropriate.” “Yale had no information indicating that Raymond Clark was capable of committing this terrible crime,” Conroy wrote, “and no reasonable security measures could have prevented his unforeseeable act.”

Le’s mother, Vivian Le, spoke publicly about the crime on the Today show when the suit was filed. “I don’t want anybody to be killed like my daughter,” she said. “Yale let it happen, and they have to be responsible for that.” Le’s parents are divorced; she was raised by an aunt and uncle in California. The Yale Daily News reported in September that Le’s aunt and uncle, and her father, were opposed to the suit.  


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