The man who raped her, also a Kansas State University student, had finally been expelled -- not for sexual assault, but because he had simply failed his classes and flunked out. In an account some fear is common among survivors of sexual assault at the nation's colleges and universities, Lietz said her school's reaction -- or non-reaction -- to her rape was akin to a second trauma in itself.
Stories like Lietz's have been illuminated this week as the Obama administration and federal education officials call on schools and universities to ramp up the fight against sexual assault on campus amid rising concerns that students are not reporting such crimes because they think they are not taken seriously by school officials.
Monday, speaking to students at the University of New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden reminded administrators that they have a legal obligation to help prevent and address sexual assault on their campuses.
"Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn," Biden said in a statement ahead of his speech Monday. "That's why we're taking new steps to help our nation's schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus."
Nearly one out of five college women will become victims of sexual assault, according to federal education figures, but they are often poorly served by the process universities use to address the crime. A 2010 series on campus rapes by the Center for Public Integrity and National Public Radio, for example, found that perpetrators of sexual violence on college campuses are rarely punished and almost never expelled.
Education officials sent letters to public schools and universities this week detailing how administrators should respond to claims of sexual assault under Title IX, the federal civil rights law banning sex discrimination and harassment in schools.
The 19-page "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights
is explicit about the rights of victims and instructs school administrators to inform students that they have a right to file claims of sexual violence with both school officials and police.
"If a school knows or reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment," the letter reads, "Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects."
The letter is aimed at giving universities more clarity on their role in preventing and responding to sexual assault, but some say it's also a signal that the Office of Civil Rights is serious about holding schools accountable on the issue.
"There's a lot of confusion about how Title IX applies here and this provides clarity. But it's also a very powerful message that these laws will be enforced," Alison Kiss, the executive director of Security on Campus, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing sexual assault at universities, told AOL News by phone.
One complaint, at a prominent university, has generated a particular amount of controversy. A group of 16 students and alumni of Yale University filed a 30-page complaint with the Department of Education last week charging that the Ivy League school has failed to eliminate a "hostile sexual environment on campus" and may be in violation of Title IX, according to the Yale Daily News. The Department of Education has told Yale that it is investigating the complaint.
Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale University junior who has signed on as one of the complainants, said the campus climate has been dogged by a series of incidents in which women were publicly degraded, like a fraternity pledge chanted on campus by students last year that included the phrase, "No means yes, yes means anal."
Brodsky said Yale discourages victims of sexual assault from pursuing a criminal case outside of school disciplinary proceedings. "Yale implicitly encourages students to handle these events in house and discourages students from reporting them to police. But there's rarely any real punishment," she told AOL News by phone.
Yale University administrators said they were complying with the investigation but said they do not believe the school has violated Title IX.
"Yale has strong regulations in place regarding sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, and when questionable incidents have occurred, has used the available means to investigate and to determine the most appropriate response, and to issue penalties where warranted," Yale College Dean Mary Miller wrote last week to students in a statement that was emailed to AOL News.
A statement on the university website adds: "Yale does not believe it has violated Title IX in any manner, but since we have not received a copy of the complaint, we are not able to comment directly."
Sarah Martino, of Students Active for Ending Rape, or SAFER, a national advocacy group founded at Columbia University, said universities are sometimes reluctant to get involved.
"Universities consider themselves educational institutions and don't want to be punitive," Martino said in a phone interview. "Well, schools don't have to be the criminal justice system. But there are things they can do, like making sure that a survivor of violence feels safe on campus and can go to class without worrying that her perpetrator is going to be there."
Those are some of the recommendations outlined in the Department of Education guidelines, which include taking steps to protect a student who was assaulted "from further sexual harassment or retaliation from the perpetrator and his or her associates," informing both the victim and the perpetrator of outcome of the complaint and offering counseling.
That would have been particularly useful to Madeleine Lietz, who says she was so emotionally distraught after her rape in the fall of 2007 that she had to take a leave of absence from school. An advocate from Kansas State University helped her file a police report at the hospital the night of the assault, but Lietz said she was never offered counseling when she returned to her classes the next semester.
"I had hoped to receive personal counseling when I returned, and maybe some help working with my professors to keep up my grades. But I did not feel welcome at all. I felt shamed."
And there was something else she wanted: a formal apology from the president of the university.
Kansas State University administrators declined to be interviewed for this story, but cited a university policy prohibiting sexual violence and offering "assistance to any member of the university community following a sexual assault."
Wednesday, Bosco sent a statement to AOL News explaining that the school cannot comment on Lietz' case specifically "because of student privacy rights."
"We take very seriously any report of sexual assault and we always provide many forms of assistance to anyone reporting a sexual assault, including help seeking medical attention, academic support and counseling, navigating the criminal complaint process, and pursuing complaints through University processes," Bosco wrote in an emailed statement to AOL News. "We have provided this kind of support and advocacy for any of my students who have been assaulted."
Brodsky said the Yale complaint isn't about trying to embarrass the university but making sure women feel safe on the campus she loves.
"Women who speak out against assault and sexual harassment on college campuses are often told that they're overreacting," she said. "We're not overreacting. We're holding our universities to federally mandated standards. These are our legal rights that we're standing up for."