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Rights case between York University and sexually assaulted student settled

Mandi Gray poses for a portrait in Toronto on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A human rights case between an Ontario university and a sexually assaulted student has been settled, with the Toronto-area institution promising Monday to provide specialized counselling to those in its community who experience sexual violence.

Mandi Gray, a 28-year-old York University PhD student, was sexually assaulted in January 2015 by another student — Mustafa Ururyar — who was found guilty of the crime earlier this year and is now appealing his conviction.

Gray went public with her fight for justice, waiving a publication ban on her name and emerging as a leading figure in the fight against sexual assault on Canadian university campuses.

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In addition to her criminal proceedings, Gray filed a complaint against York University at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in June 2015, claiming the school lacked clear procedures for reporting sexual assaults.

Gray alleged in her complaint that by failing to have sexual assault-specific policies, procedures and protocols to respond to reports of sexual assault committed by its students and staff, the university discriminated against her as a woman, and as a sexual assault survivor.

In a joint statement issued Monday, York University and Gray said a settlement had been reached in the case.

As part of the resolution, York said it will collaborate with sexual assault centres to provide specialized counselling to sexual violence survivors from the university community.

"York University strives to be a progressive institution that believes in social justice and respects Ms. Gray's efforts to bring public attention to the issue of sexual assault and the treatment of survivors," the statement said.

The settlement comes after York released interim guidelines in September for responding to sexual violence.

The guidelines included the introduction of a Sexual Violence Response Office and a policy that police would only be notified about alleged incidents with the consent of alleged victims, unless there is an imminent safety risk to the community.

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Gray had taken issue with the new rules, saying they amounted largely to symbolic changes, and had said she would air her concerns at a mediation session with the university organized by the human rights tribunal last month.

She had alleged that the Sexual Violence Response Office, for instance, did not have sufficient staff with specific expertise to deal with disclosures of sexual assault.

She also said all students, including those who may have experienced alleged sexual assaults and are involved in the legal system, should have access to counselling services at the university.

Other terms of the settlement in the human rights case between York and Gray are confidential.

The joint statement on the settlement also noted that the resolution does not constitute an admission of liability by York or a concession by Gray of her case.

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