Maharishi sued for not protecting students

Associated Press/February 28, 2006

Two federal lawsuits claim the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield doesn’t protect its students.

The lawsuits were filed separately in U.S. District Court by John Killian, 23, a former student, and the family of Levi Butler, a student who was killed in a stabbing on campus in 2004.

Butler was stabbed several times in the chest with a paring knife on March 1, 2004 in the campus dining hall. The attack came several hours after Killian was stabbed in the face with a ball point pen.

Shuvender Sem, 26, of Lancaster, Pa., was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the attacks and committed to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center at Oakdale.

The lawsuits, filed last Friday, claim the required twice-daily regimen of meditation was dangerous for a mentally ill student.

‘‘In particular, transcendental meditation can magnify psychological problems, including the likelihood and severity of aggressive and violent behavior,’’ the lawsuits said.

The lawsuits say university employees ignored the first attack, resuming classes and blaming the attack on Sem’s improper meditation.

Sem was placed in the custody of Joel Wynsong, the university’s dean of men, and taken to Wynsong’s apartment on campus, where he stole a paring knife, court documents said.

He then fled the apartment and went to the dining hall where he stabbed Butler, records show.

The lawsuits allege the university was negligent for failing to recognize the threat Sem posed to students, reporting the initial attack to authorities and keeping Sem away from other students after he attacked Killian.

‘‘We are very much looking forward to have the opportunity to bring to light the events that lead to Levi Butler’s death,’’ said Stephen Eckley, the Butler family’s attorney.

Bill Goldstein, a lawyer for the school, said he was unaware of the lawsuits and would have to review them before commenting.

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