“Meaningful reform has not yet set in” new suit against BU alleges

(Baylor University photo/file)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A new Title IX lawsuit filed Monday against Baylor that stems from an alleged rape that occurred 11 months after the university promised sweeping changes claims “meaningful reform has not yet set in.”

In May Baylor regents announced "structural completion" of the 105 recommendations growing out of the Pepper Hamilton law firm's scathing report of a review of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the school's football program.

But the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court on behalf of a Baylor coed who alleges that another student raped her in April says “University Title IX personnel directly contradicted any assurance that meaningful change had occurred within the Title IX office despite the University’s repeated boasting of full implementation of the recommendations.

Instead, the suit says, university employees asked the student what type of clothes she was wearing at the time of the alleged rape and how easily they were removed, interrogated her about alcohol use and what she had eaten, and ultimately determined that the sex was consensual, without having the results of an exam performed by a sexual assault nurse examiner at a local hospital.

“When Jane Doe 11 maintained that the assault was not consensual, the university attempted to have her say that (her alleged attacker) may have nevertheless believed that he had consent.

The university declined to comment on the specific allegations in the suit Monday, but issued a statement in which it said, “Baylor University takes any allegation of sexual violence within our campus community seriously. We are in the process of reviewing the claims outlined in the lawsuit and will decline to comment further,” the school said in a statement issued in response to the suit Monday.

The woman went to a local hospital after the alleged rape, which occurred on the eve of the university's annual Diadeloso celebration in April, Waco police were called and Baylor police were notified, the suit says.

Baylor police notified the University’s Title IX Office, the suit says.

The woman told investigators that “throughout the several hours during the course of the evening, she consumed two beers and one mixed drink, but not enough that she’d ever experienced severe adverse effects or incapacitation.”

“Nevertheless, (the woman) experienced unexpected and unexplained dizziness and blurry vision and ultimately went in and out of consciousness, during which time the assault occurred,” the suit says.

The woman woke up with blood on her clothing, the suit says, but Baylor found that force wasn’t used and although the woman “was in and out of consciousness during the assault, Baylor found that “a sober reasonable person” would not have believed the woman was incapable of consenting due to incapacitation.”

“Ultimately, (the woman) was told by Baylor they had found (the alleged attacker) not responsible for the assault, and found that the same sexual activity that (he) totally denied engaging in was nevertheless consensual.”

When the woman tried to appeal the Title IX finding, the Title IX Office refused to answer her questions until immediately before the deadline for the appeal and then refused to extend the deadline, the suit says.

The woman was also misinformed about her options, such as obtaining a no contact or protective order, the suit claims.

Her request for help from the Title IX Office “that would allow her to go to and from class without having to see her assailant…has been denied to date,” the suit says.

The suit, filed by Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn LLP in Houston and Jim Dunnam of Dunnam and Dunnam LLP in Waco, says the woman is in danger of losing her financial aid.

In May regents announced “structural completion” of the 105 recommendations growing out of the Pepper Hamilton law firm’s report.

The announcement came just less than a year after regents reassigned President and Chancellor Ken Starr, fired head football coach Art Briles and put Athletic Director Ian McCaw on probation on May 2016, 2016.
McCaw announced his resignation on May 30 and later was named athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Starr resigned as chancellor on June 1 and later severed ties with the school entirely.
Garland was named to serve as interim president, a role he played from August 2008 until May 2010, before Starr was hired.

He relinquished the presidency effective June 1 to Dr. Linda Livingstone, who was named the school's 15th president on April 18.

She's the first woman to lead the university.

Title IX, which is part of a more than 40-year-old law aimed at ensuring equal rights for those participating in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance, applies to all facets of a school's environment.

It has been interpreted to mean that sexual harassment of students including sexual violence interferes with the right to receive an education free from discrimination, and requires schools to take immediate action to end harassment and sexual violence.

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