Baylor campus

Baylor University on Monday was ordered to disclose medical records and counseling records of alleged sexual assault victims who have opted not to sue the school under Title IX. 

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

In a Monday morning legal blow in a Title IX lawsuit filed by 10 former students, a federal judge ordered Baylor University to disclose several years’ worth of certain pieces of medical and counseling records of all female students who reported they were sexually assaulted while attending the school.

The records are “indisputably important,” U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman wrote, to the claims of the 10 women suing Baylor who were allegedly denied educational opportunities after their assaults.

Unlikely to be available for public viewing, the records will contain detailed spreadsheets describing the reports women made to Baylor medical and counseling officials since 2006 and 2009, respectively, because the university began electronically storing the records at those times.

The spreadsheets will include the reports themselves, the dates of said reports, the dates of the assaults, whether the alleged assailants were Baylor students and the gender of the alleged assailants.

For months, Baylor has fought to protect these records. The university had signaled an intention to seek a higher court ruling on whether the records be made discoverable, but a mandamus brief to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet been filed.

A Baylor spokesman said the university continues to have ongoing concerns about the confidentiality of student records unrelated to the case.

Pitman, however, wrote that the records would not include “personally identifiable information” — such as the names of the alleged victims — thus making the privacy statutes inapplicable.

The allegations of the 10 women have moved forward on the claim that Baylor had an official policy of discrimination that created a heightened risk of sexual assault. Pitman agrees with the plaintiffs’ claim that “accurate numbers of the extent of sexual assaults on campus go to the heart of the enhanced risk case.”

Waco attorney Jim Dunnam, who represents the 10 plaintiffs, declined to comment on the ruling.

Pitman has already ruled Baylor must disclose information found in the Pepper Hamilton LLP investigation, which led to top-level dismissals at the school and several lawsuits and investigations into how the university handled reports of sexual violence by students. Several top Baylor officials face depositions, Dunnam disclosed in a motion last week.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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