A Howard University student is suing the school, alleging it allowed him to become the scapegoat for a financial aid scandal gripping the institution.
The lawsuit filed by Tyrone Hankerson Jr. also names Howard’s president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, as a defendant.
A Howard representative said in a statement that the university does not comment on pending litigation and was not making any comments about the protected information of any Howard student.
The court filing is connected to a scandal involving allegedly misappropriated funds at the historically Black university. In their latest report on the alleged financial misdeeds, Howard officials said six former employees misappropriated $369,000 in financial aid from 2011 to 2016, revealing for the first time the scope of the scandal that helped ignite more than a week of student protests. The university has not publicly identified the employees.
In late March, an anonymous item was posted to an online blogging platform alleging an “office-wide scandal” involving officials in the university’s financial aid department. That post mentioned Hankerson by name and suggested he had been the recipient of misappropriated money.
Hankerson was publicly humiliated and became the target of defamatory statements, the court filing alleges.
“Mr. Hankerson also endured reputational and potential physical harm as students suddenly targeted Mr. Hankerson as the person who was the cause of the lack of university funding to assist students in financial need,” the court documents state.
Hankerson lost a job and has had to see a therapist, the court documents state. He claims his personal and professional reputation have been damaged. Hankerson has said he only accepted financial aid that was offered to him and did not award himself any funding.