Latest LSU Title IX lawsuit has ties to Rapides Parish

The latest LSU Title IX lawsuit has ties to Rapides Parish.
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 1:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - Six plaintiffs have filed a federal civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District alleging that Louisiana State University violated their rights under Title IX, because the university failed to protect them from what the lawsuit calls a “successful serial sexual predator.”

The lawsuit has connections to Rapides Parish, because the man at the center of the suit, Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros, was arrested for sexual battery and rape of a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, identified in court documents by the initials A.A.S., during a Catholic student retreat at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center in Woodworth in Sept. 2018. D’Espalungue is a French citizen.

According to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, on Sept. 30, 2018, deputies responded to Tall Timbers in reference to a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The victim told deputies that she had been assaulted by d’Espalungue, who was 28 and an LSU student at the time, and an attendee of the Catholic retreat.

D’Espalungue would ultimately be indicted by a grand jury for third-degree rape in Feb. 2021. His arraignment was set for April, but d’Espalungue had been granted permission to travel back to France by Judge Chris Hazel to visit his family for the holidays and never returned to the United States.

D’Espalungue was being represented by Mike Small, who at the time was still in contact with him, and said a visa issue was holding up the return flight. Sometime after that, d’Espalungue stopped talking completely and Judge Hazel ended up revoking his bond and issuing an arrest warrant in March. It’s believed d’Espalungue has been in France ever since. France does not extradite its own nationals. Small is no longer his attorney.

According to the lawsuit, after the arrest for rape in 2018, he was allowed to return to LSU, where he was a graduate student and employee of the university. He was hired in the university’s French department, leading activities that the lawsuit claims put him in contact with other future victims - some of whom are listed in the suit.

It wasn’t until 2020 that he was suspended from the university for another rape accusation. This time, just before turning 30, he allegedly sexually assaulted a 20-year-old LSU undergrad.

The lawsuit claims that because d’Espalungue was allowed back at LSU after the 2018 rape arrest in Rapides Parish, his pattern of behavior continued. Multiple other claims of sexual assault have been linked to him.

Again, d’Espalungue is still believed to be in France, so the rape case in Rapides Parish is in limbo.

We reached out to the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office and they provided us with this statement about the case.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office gave us a similar statement.

The victim in Rapides Parish, A.A.S., has since filed a federal civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District directly against d’Espalungue. That too remains in limbo while he stays in France.

Here is the full lawsuit:

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