Baylor named in new Title IX lawsuit

(Baylor University photo/file)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Baylor was named in a new Title IX lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Friday on behalf of three women, identified only as Jane Does 12, 13 and 14, who claim they were sexually assaulted, one of them by two football players.

The suit filed by Chad Dunn of Brazil & Dunn LLP in Houston and Jim Dunnam of Dunnam & Dunnam LLP in Waco, alleges the school violated the women’s rights under Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to publish an annual security report every fall that includes campus crime statistics.

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.

“Baylor University has placed a top priority on the safety and security of our students, as evidenced by the many changes that have occurred within the campus community since May 2016,” the school said in a statement Friday

“We will reserve further comment until we have the opportunity to learn more about the concerns raised in the filing.”

Jane Doe 12, a journalism major who enrolled in 2014, claims that she was sexually assaulted by another student in March 2016.

She told a friend and fellow student about the assault a short time later and then reported the assault to a professor two weeks later, the suit says.

The professor contacted the department head and an email was sent informing the school’s Title IX Office, the suit says.

Title IX officials told the woman she could make a Title IX complaint, file a complaint with police, or do both.

The Title IX Office, however, told her that “reporting to the police would mean a 5 year investigation that would span past her graduation and could possibly derail her plans to study abroad. She was also told that if her assailant graduated prior to the conclusion of a police investigation, the university would not be able to punish him,” the suit says.

Doe chose to make only a Title IX complaint, but was later told her case was on hold until an investigator returned from vacation, the suit says.

She suffered panic attacks and anxiety and was referred to an outside counselor who did not accept her insurance.

Her grades suffered, she has had to retake courses and is no longer eligible to study abroad, the suit says.

“The university acknowledged her rape, but ignored the impact on her mental health and her ability to perform academically.”

Her alleged assailant was found responsible for the sexual assault, but the only sanction was a no-contact order for the remainder of his time at the school, the suit says.

Jane Doe 13, a psychology major who enrolled in the school in the Fall of 2011, claims she was raped by another student in April 2012 and reported the assault in the fall of 2012 to the school’s counseling center, which misinformed her about her options to further report the incident, accommodations to which she was entitled under Title IX and “further investigatory actions that could be taken by the university,” the suit says.

“Jane Doe 13 was placed in group counseling sessions where discussions of retaliation against reporters of sexual assault were common. The failure of the university's counselor to correct the narratives, using only ‘reassuring words’ instead, caused Jane Doe 13 to fear further reporting her assault,” the suit says.

She was sexually assaulted a second time in the fall of 2012, this time by a member of the Baylor rugby team, the suit says, and reported the assault to her counselor at the counseling center.

“Jane Doe 13 was manipulated into not pursuing her rights and was left to handle panic attacks, which she reported to the counseling center, every time she ran into her assailants on campus on her own,” the suit says.

Her alleged assailant “was allowed to follow her on a study aboard program” hosted by Baylor “where he assaulted her a second time,” the suit says.

“Struggling with classes, Jane Doe 13 did break down and speak to a professor about her assault and PTSD in 2014,” the suit says.

She, too, struggled in her course work as she battled depression and anxiety, the suit says.

Jane Doe 14, a child and family studies major who enrolled in the fall of 2014, was sexually assaulted in April 2016 by two members of the Baylor football team, the suit says.

The assault occurred at university-owned student housing, the suit says.

She reported her assault to Baylor's counseling center, police department and Title IX Office, the suit says, but “was misled 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 suit says.

“When Jane Doe 14 requested academic assistance and explained her assault to a professor, the professor declined accommodations and told her that despite bad things happening, life still goes on,” the suit says.

“After the assault, Baylor informed Jane Doe 14 that she had to go to another institution of higher education before she would be allowed to continue her course of study at Baylor,” the suit says.

When she tried to re-enroll this fall, she was told Judicial Affairs had placed a hold on her account.

On Aug. 31, she was “informed that Baylor had put the hold on (her) attempt to re-enroll because of the alleged conduct from spring of 2017 at the different college, a college not part of the Baylor system,” the suit says.

“In notifying Jane Doe 14 at the last minute that she was being charged with misconduct under the Code of Conduct, Baylor informed her that her alleged actions were ‘in opposition to the Christian ideals [Baylor] strives to uphold,’” the suit says.

“While ultimately allowing Jane Doe 14 to start classes, Baylor has now set a hearing, with a mere one week advance notice, and informed her she will waive her rights if she does not respond in that limited time,” the suit says.

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