Rust College named in 8 lawsuits to be filed Friday - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rust College named in 8 lawsuits to be filed Friday

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Action News 5 uncovered new allegations against a former Rust College professor already accused of sexual abusing a student.

In October 2012, Sylvester Oliver was arrested, accused of raping a student a few years ago after she went to him seeking course advice.

This week, the Action News 5 investigators spotted a new billboard from a Mid-South law firm that reads: "Victim of Sexual Abuse at Rust College?"

The sign can be seen off of U.S. Highway 78 in Holly Springs and features a mug shot of Oliver and gives a phone number for The Cochran Firm.

"I think that picture is appropriate based on the stories that we've heard and that we've verified through our investigations," said Ben Irwin, The Cochran Firm.

Upon calling the firm, AN5's Michael Clark learned that on Friday the group will announce the filing of eight federal civil lawsuits on behalf of the alleged victims, naming the former professor as a defendant in several of the suits, but not all of them. Though, the college is expected to be named in all of them.

The Cochran Firm alleges the new victims came forward accusing Oliver, as well as other staff members, of misconduct. They are suing the school for allowing it to happen or go on.

"What we have found out is that Rust College allowed known acts to occur and that has changed the lives of these young women," added Irwin.

Oliver is still awaiting trial to face the sexual abuse charge against him, according to an assistant district attorney in Marshall County.

"Shocked. Very shocked," said Lakisha Boga, who knew Oliver. She is skeptical of the allegations against him and the college, but says that is what the courts are for. "A lot of people point the finger and say it didn't happen but you never know what a person goes through unless you've been in that same position."

The president of Rust College could not comment on the lawsuit, but sent the following statement:

"Safety of our students is a primary concern of Rust College. We are very proud of our overall record and will continue to focus on serving our students while maintaining the safety of our campus community."

The Cochran Firm will hold a news conference about the lawsuits Friday.

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