University | 4:05 pm | September 9, 2011 | By Everett Rosenfeld

Mother of Le GRD ’13 appears on Today show to talk suit

Vivian Le on the Today show.
Vivian Le on the Today show. Photo by Everett Rosenfeld.

The mother of Annie Le GRD ’13 took to the Today show Friday morning to explain her support for the wrongful death suit against Yale, and hint at more evidence not included in the 10-page complaint.

Vivian Le, the biological mother of the former pharmacology student, appeared alongside family lawyer Joseph Tacopina, and elaborated on the suit, which accuses Yale of fostering a dangerous environment for women. The Le family first hired Tacopina last summer, and although the suit is technically in the name of Annie Le’s estate, her parents and other beneficiaries stand to profit from the suit which currently asks for unspecified damages. Despite the potential for monetary gain, Le said that the lawsuit is not about money but to protect other members of the Yale community.

“I’m standing for my daughter, because I don’t want anybody to be killed like my daughter,” she told Today’s Ann Curry. “She died for nothing; she died in vain, and I want Yale to protect the students. Yale had let [the murder] happen and you have to be responsible for that.”

Former Yale lab technician Raymond Clark III admitted to killing Le in a plea bargain last spring, and is currently serving a 44-year prison sentence.

In addition to claiming that Yale’s “atmosphere of tolerance of sexual harassment and sexual assaults” led to the murder, the suit, filed in New Haven Superior Court on Tuesday, alleges that Yale also is liable because the administration should have known about Clark’s violent tendencies. Although the Clark had no adult criminal record up until his arrest for the murder, the lawsuit claims that he had demonstrated a propensity for violence in his youth that his sister and brother-in-law, both Yale employees, could have told the University about.

Four personal injuries law experts told the News that this argument is not sufficient to prove that Yale was negligent, but Tacopina hinted on his Today show appearance that there could be more evidence to come.

“They had other students and other lab employees who had made complaints about Ray Clark,” Tacopina said. “One of the problems is Ray Clark’s supervisor…was his brother-in-law, and his brother-in-law obviously was someone who was perhaps receiving complaints and didn’t act on them. Yale is responsible for that. They had prior notice about him.”

David K. Jaffe, a partner at Brown, Paindiris & Scott in Hartford and an expert on personal injury cases, told the News that the only way that Annie Le’s estate could present a viable court case is if there had been complaints that Yale had ignored.

Watch the Today show clip:

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