Three women sue Baylor, alleging sexual assault
Three unnamed women who say they were sexually assaulted on or near the Baylor campus while students, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the university.
According to the suit, one of the alleged sexual assaults involved an athlete.
Naming the plaintiffs as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, Jim Dunnam, of Waco’s Dunnam and Dunnam Law Firm, filed the suit Wednesday in Waco’s U.S. District Court.
The suit lists only the university as a defendant.
Fired head football coach Art Briles is not named.
“We’ve made no specific allegations against him, at this time," Dunnam said.
The suit alleges each woman was the victim of a sexual assault while on campus at Baylor and that the university failed to respond to their reports, misinformed each about their rights, and failed to protect each of them from harm.
Baylor issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon in which it said it could not comment on the specific allegations.
“Due to the deeply personal and sensitive nature of individual cases and federal law, we do not publicly address specific cases, even when a student publicly shares details or reports of his or her own experience," the university said.
"The decision to report to the university or other authorities is a brave and personal choice and occurs on the student’s timetable. We’re committed to and have already begun to implement changes in order to provide a safe and supportive environment for students and faculty.”
The lawsuit filed Wednesday says a significant history of student on student harassment “resulting from deliberate indifference, has been allowed to continue” at Baylor “for many years.”
The suit alleges that each of the women reported incidents of sexual abuse and sexual harassment while students, and says that Baylor “failed to adequately investigate each and every one of the events the Plaintiffs reported in violation of Title IX.”
Jane Doe 1 started school at Baylor in January 2014 and lived at the Baylor-owned University Parks apartments.
The suit alleges she was sexually assaulted at the apartment complex on April 26, 2014 by a student who also was a player on the university’s football team.
The complaint says she reported the assault to a university physician who “misinformed Jane Doe 1 and concealed from Jane Doe 1 as to her options to further report the incident, accommodations she was entitled to under Title IX, and further investigatory actions that could be taken by the University,” the complaint says.
She also reported the assault to the Baylor advocacy center but no official action was taken by the university, the suit says.
Ultimately Jane Doe 1 lost her scholarships and left Baylor in the fall of 2015.
Jane Doe 2 enrolled at Baylor in August 2004.
The suit alleges she was sexually assaulted on Sept. 4, 2004 and at the time was younger than 18.
She reported her assault to a chaplain, a dormitory director and to the Baylor Police Department, all of which ended without investigation or follow-up, the suit says.
The suit says police told her she would be contacted by an investigator, but says she has no memory of talking with any detective about the assault, the complaint says.
She also eventually left school and in May 2008 moved out of state.
She was allowed to re-enroll in the fall of 2015, but the suit says poor grades, because of anxiety over her previous experience, led to her suspension from the university, the complaint says.
Jane Doe 3 enrolled at Baylor in August 2012 and was assigned to Teal Residential College dormitory, the suit says.
She reported that she was harassed and sexually assaulted by a male student beginning in the fall of 2013 and continuing through December 2015.
Both Jane Doe 3 and her assailant were dormitory staff members, the suit says.
“At the time of these incidents, the Defendant University had no Title IX coordinator to whom Jane Doe 3 could report,” the suit says.
“Ultimately, Jane Doe 3 informed the Baylor Police Department of the situation where a case number was assigned and purportedly the investigation remains open,” the suit says.
In summary, the complaint says: “Defendant failed to take immediate, effective remedial steps to resolve the complaints of sexual harassment, and instead acted with deliberate indifference towards Plaintiffs.
“Defendant engaged in a pattern and practice of behavior designed to discourage and dissuade students and guest students who had been sexually assaulted from seeking prosecution and protection and from seeking to have sexual assaults from being fully investigated,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction that would force Baylor to “refrain from unlawful discrimination and/or retaliation” and to order the university to “rectify any and all Title IX violations and to order the athletic department to refrain from condoning such behavior by athletes.
The lawsuit also seeks damages “including actual damages, compensatory damages, nominal damages, punitive damages, court and litigation costs, expert fees, attorney’s fees, statutory interest and injunctive relief.