Baylor campus (copy)

A federal judge delivered an order on Monday directing Baylor University and 10 women who claim they were sexually assaulted while students how to proceed in the discovery process. 

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

A contentious discovery-gathering process between Baylor University and 10 alleged sexual assault victims found clarity on Monday through a federal order outlining which words may be searched among a trove of documents Baylor must turn over to the plaintiffs.

Baylor and the plaintiffs in August agreed upon certain words that could lead to discoverable evidence in the Title IX lawsuit filed in June 2016. Those words include “skank,” “slut,” “stripper,” “tart,” “promiscuous” and “victim blaming.”

About 40 other terms, however, were disagreed upon until U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman denied the use of most of them in the order.

The terms “alcohol,” “drunk,” “intoxicated” and “wasted” would be too burdensome to the discovery process, Pitman ruled, but the term “incapacitated” can be searchable because it is often used to reference capacity to consent to sexual activity.

Pitman also addressed a disagreement over whether Baylor administrators attempted to destroy evidence for the lawsuit. He allowed use of the terms, “bury” and “hidding” — plaintiffs say the misspelled version of “hiding” is used in relevant emails — and allowed “delete” only in conjunction with the terms “report” or evidence.”

Pitman granted use of the search terms “asking for it,” “she /s dress,” “she /s expect,” and “she /s wearing.”

Other terms related to sexual activity were denied because terms like “rape,” “sexual assault,” and “sexual contact” are already allowed into the discovery search. Pitman denied the use of most of the terms related to Baylor’s code of conduct because the terms would also be covered under other searches.

A Baylor spokesman did not issue a statement on Monday but pointed to the university’s wish to prevent disclosure of student records that are unrelated to the lawsuit.

“We will remain steadfast in protecting the privacy of thousands of students who are not involved and who may have no knowledge of this matter,” a Baylor statement said in part last week.

Baylor is seeking a ruling on whether those records are discoverable from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Tribune-Herald reported last week.

Waco attorney Jim Dunnam, who represents the 10 plaintiffs, did not return a request for comment on Monday.

Pitman ruled the word “b---h” is not necessary to the case, but said “ho” is relevant because the term could refer to sexual behavior.

This step in discovery will be used to guide the release of materials reviewed by Pepper Hamilton LLP, the law firm that investigated how sexual violence reports were handled at Baylor. Pitman ruled in August that Baylor must produce the interview recordings, notes, summaries and evidence from the investigation.

An October 2018 trial date is tentatively set. Baylor faces six Title IX lawsuits and has settled several others.

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

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