Stephen Embry has filed a sex abuse lawsuit against Harvard University alleging that he was repeatedly molested from 1969 to 1972 by campus swimming coach Benn Merritt.
According to the lawsuit, Harvard misled Embry about the state’s statute of limitation on abuse cases, which Embry’s attorney said is fraud. Embry also said that the university failed to disclose that in 1996, Merritt and the university faced a similar lawsuit. The previous suit against Harvard was dismissed, however the suit against Merritt was settled, after which, Merritt committed suicide.
In 2010, university attorney Ellen Fels Berkman allegedly told Embry in a letter that she was “unable to find anyone who would support your suggestion that Harvard is legally responsible,” and that the “time has long since passed for bringing a legal claim against the university.”
In Massachusetts, the law says that sexual abuse victims have three years from the time they realize they had been abused to filed a civil lawsuit, the Boston Globe reports.
According to Embry who is now 55, Merritt sexually assaulted him over 100 times over three years, starting when he was 12. In the 1996 lawsuit, a 41-year-old man claimed in a lawsuit that he was 11 when Merritt started to sexually abuse him, and continued until he was 16, in 1970. That man claimed he did not remember the abuse until 1993. Embry says that it wasn’t until four year ago that he remembered what had occurred.
Harvard officials released a statement this week that said, “The acts that Mr. Embry says that he suffered at the hands of his neighbor can only be described as despicable, but there is no basis to suggest that the University had any knowledge of these events when they allegedly occurred more than three decades ago.”