Baylor named in 15th Jane Doe lawsuit over handling of rape complaint

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Baylor University has been named in a 15th Jane Doe lawsuit filed on behalf of a former student who accuses the school of downplaying her report of a sexual assault and leaving her to fend for herself.

(Baylor University photo/file)

"She was sexually assaulted by a fellow student,” said Waco attorney Jim Dunnam, who filed the suit earlier this week in U.S. District Court.

“She went to various departments at Baylor University, she even went to even President Starr. She went to the Title IX office, she went to student affairs, she went to the chaplain. She was either ignored or she was promised things that Baylor didn't live up to,” he said.

Baylor declined to comment specifically on the suit Friday, but said in a statement “Our hearts go out to any student who has experienced sexual assault. Any such incident involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable.”

The suit alleges that Doe, who enrolled in Baylor in August 2014, was sexually assaulted by a male student in February 2016 at an off-campus apartment complex where both she and her alleged assailant, who is not an athlete, lived.

She was taken to a local hospital where a sexual assault evidentiary exam was performed and where police took a report, the suit says.

Three Baylor professors visited her on the morning she was released and one of them notified the university’s Title IX Office, the suit says.

The next day, Doe reported the rape to Baylor police and within days her parents also contacted campus police and a Baylor chaplain to report the rape and request assistance for their daughter, the suit says.

Doe’s father also notified then Baylor Chancellor and President Ken Starr, the suit says.

She was referred to Vice President for Student Life Martha Lou Scott to discuss accommodations regarding her classes, but was told “that there wasn’t anything that office could do for her.”

Title IX officials told her that they couldn’t help with relocation because she lived off campus, “but referred her to a chaplain that assists students in crisis and could assist with housing,” the suit says.

“Jane Doe 15 attempted multiple times to get help from chaplain's office but was left to figure it out on her own,” the suit says.

“The initial concern and plans of action to assist Jane Doe 15 quickly dissolved and by (the) fall of 2016 Jane Doe 15 was left to navigate accommodations, protective orders and housing on her own,” the suit says.

Although she was told her alleged assailant would be arrested if he returned to campus, he did return and was not arrested, the suit alleges.

The alleged rape occurred about three months before the findings of a nine-month investigation by the Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton law firm were presented to Baylor regents.

On May 26, 2016 regents released a 13-page findings of fact statement and a list of 105 recommendations from the law firm, and announced the firing of head football coach Art Briles, the reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr, and the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw.

Four days later, on May 30, McCaw resigned saying he needed to step down in order to help the university heal and move forward.

McCaw is now the athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Va.

Starr resigned from his position as chancellor on June 1.

He severed all ties with the university in August 2016.

In April 2017, the university announced that Dr. Linda A. Livingstone would become the school’s 15th president, and the first woman to serve as the university’s president in Baylor's 172-year history.

The next month, a year after the scathing report was issued, regents announced "structural completion" of the 105 recommendations included in the law firm’s report.

Then in August 2017, Livingstone announced that Dr. Reagan Ramsower, who was at the center of the controversy over the school’s handling of Title IX sexual assault complaints was stepping down as the school’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, university

He will transition out of the position at the end of the school’s current fiscal year on May 31, 2018, the letter said.

“Baylor University has taken unprecedented actions and implemented infrastructure, policies and procedures in response to the issue of past and alleged sexual assaults involving our campus community,” the university said in its statement Friday.

“Our unwavering commitment is to our students – to continue to educate, train and respond appropriately to interpersonal violence and work continuously to ensure a safe, supportive and healthy campus for all students."

Dunnam, however, said Friday he doesn’t think the school’s culture has changed enough.

“At the end of the day there's not been transparency and the people, the individuals that were responsible for how these young women were treated have not been held accountable and remain at Baylor University,” he said.