A former Baylor University student who claims she was physically assaulted at least three times by a former Baylor football player has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university.
Baylor has been embroiled in controversy over how officials responded to sexual assault allegations since two former football players were convicted of sexual assault and the May release of a scathing report that resulted in Baylor President Ken Starr, head football coach Art Briles and athletics director Ian McCaw losing their jobs.
Baylor spokeswoman Tonya Lewis said Wednesday that Baylor does not comment on pending litigation.
“Due to the lack of assistance and lack of protections Title IX provides, defendants’ actions amount to severe egregious and wanton acts that allowed plaintiff and many other female members of the student body to sustain severe physical and emotional injuries,” the lawsuit, filed on Lozano’s behalf by Ricky K. Patel, an attorney from Coral Gables, Florida, alleges.
Lozano was a communication science and disorders major at Baylor and started dating Baylor running back Devin Chafin in 2012.
In March 2014, she alleges Chafin threatened her and then slapped, kicked and slammed her against the wall until she fell to the ground. Chafin then strangled her until she began to lose consciousness, the suit alleges.
Lozano suffered “severe bruising and abrasions,” according to the suit. She reported the assault to Baylor running backs coach Jeff Lebby, who told her he would speak to Chafin about the incident.
“However, to plaintiff’s knowledge, no known further reasonable action was taken by Lebby, and no report was filed regarding the incident,” the suit claims. “Shortly after, plaintiff began to suffer emotional distress as a result of the first assault.”
Lozano worked as manager of the Baylor acrobatics and tumbling team and asked for some time off to recover, according to the suit.
LaPrise Harris-Williams, the team coach, asked to meet with Lozano and expressed concern about her bruises and abrasions, the suit says. Lozano confided in Harris-Williams, who immediately reported the assault to her supervisor, associate athletics director Nancy Post.
“Post informed Williams that ‘being involved with incidents like Lozano’s were not (Williams’) responsibility,’ ” according to the allegations. “Despite the severity of what has been reported to Post, she completely disregarded the assault Williams was attempting to report to Post. Post did not advise Williams of any proper or corrective course of action to take.”
After that, Lozano turned to Baylor sports chaplain Wes Yeary, reporting the assault to him in March 2014. During the meeting, Lozano reported Chafin’s violent actions and said Chafin needed help “to address his emotional and mental well-being.”
Yeary gave Lozano literature to assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation, the suit says. Three weeks later, on April 5, 2014, Chafin assaulted Lozano again on the parking lot of a Baylor-area nightclub, the suit says. The suit claims Chafin slammed Lozano’s arm against a vehicle in view of several of her friends.
Lozano sought treatment at Baylor’s on-campus clinic and told staff there how she was injured, according to the suit.
‘No further action’
“The clinic staff referred plaintiff to the on-campus counseling center, again to ‘assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation,’ as if she was the cause of her own abuse. No further action was taken by anyone at the on-campus clinic, no report was filed with the university, and the incident was disregarded as just another complaint.
“After being physically assaulted on two separate occasions and receiving no support or guidance from defendants, plaintiff fell into a state of hopelessness and despair which began to affect her studies,” the suit alleges.
Lozano filed a report with Waco police on April 11, 2014, and was told a detective would follow up with her case. She never heard from one, the suit claims.
“Plaintiff’s calls to police went unreturned, and again, she felt irrelevant and alone,” the document states.
Later that month, Chafin assaulted Lozano for a third time, grabbing her and slamming her to the ground, according to the suit.
Lozano turned to Williams again, who advised her to keep calling the police.
“Despite reporting the assaults to various members of Baylor faculty members, staff and administration, plaintiff was never contacted by any faculty member, staff or administrative personnel to commence an investigation, to reasonably address (Chafin’s) actions and well-being, or to reasonably address the harm plaintiff suffered from the assaults,” the suit alleges.
Chafin was dismissed from the football team June 1. He was named in an April 2014 Waco police report but was not charged.