Following a lawsuit filed by six women accusing LSU of failing to conduct a proper investigation into complaints of sexual misconduct against a former French graduate student, LSU removed the chair of the Department of French Studies, effective immediately, The Advocate reported on Wednesday.
Adelaide Russo, the department chair, remains a professor at LSU but is on sabbatical, according to an email from College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Troy Blanchard.
“Leadership from the Office of Academic Affairs, LSU Human Resources and the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX have recommended the removal of Adelaide as chair of the Department of French Studies,” Blanchard’s email read. “Her term as department chair will conclude effective immediately.”
Russo reportedly defended former graduate student Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros on several occasions following multiple rape accusations, including the rape of a University of Louisiana at Lafayette student in 2018.
At least six more women, all connected to LSU, have reported sexual harassment or assault by d’Espalungue, according to The Advocate.
Russo allowed d’Espalungue to work directly with undergraduate students despite his 2018 arrest and third-degree rape charge, according to the lawsuit filed last week.
Russo and d’Espalungue met with an associate who advised that d’Espalungue should not be in the classroom or “leading anything on campus,” the lawsuit said. The Advocate reported that the graduate student emailed undergraduate students about a film screening the same day. Complaints about Russo and d’Espalungue continued at the university over the next two years.
D’Espalungue allegedly continued to commit acts of sexual assault, including a 2020 incident where a student reported she was raped after they went on a picnic together. D’Espalungue was suspended following this incident.
Shortly after his late 2020 suspension, d’Espalungue petitioned a Rapides Parish judge to visit his home in France over the 2020 holidays. He was granted the request and has not returned to the U.S. since despite third-degree rape charges and an indictment.