Baylor campus

Baylor University now faces five active Title IX lawsuits after a woman alleged the school did not properly respond to her report of sexual assault in April 2017. 

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

The first day of classes in the 2017-18 academic school year at Baylor University on Monday came with another Title IX lawsuit filed against the school.

In the eighth such lawsuit filed against Baylor and the fifth active case, “Jane Doe 11” alleges she was assaulted by a fellow student in April 2017 and says she faced questions from university officials that tilted blame away from the perpetrator.

Lawyers representing the plaintiff, Chad Dunn and Jim Dunnam, note their client’s allegations come after Baylor’s “media tour patting itself on the back for ‘complete’ and ‘full’ implementation” of 105 recommendations meant to improve the university’s response to sexual violence in the wake of a scandal that cost the president, head football coach, athletics director their jobs.

“I think that, unfortunately, it’s an example of how things still have not changed,” Dunnam said. “Hopefully, they will.”

Dunn and Dunnam also represent 10 former students who allege their assaults between 2004 and 2016 were not adequately handled.

“Baylor University takes any allegation of sexual violence within our campus community seriously,” a Monday university statement said. “We are in the process of reviewing the claims outlined in the lawsuit and will decline to comment further.”

Doe 11 enrolled at Baylor in 2014 as a sophomore with need-based and academic-based scholarships, the lawsuit alleges. After the night of the assault, Doe 11 underwent a sexual assault nurse examination at a hospital, according to the suit, and Waco police, Baylor police and Baylor’s Title IX office were notified.

Her experience with Title IX officials “directly contradicted any assurance that meaningful change had occurred … despite the University’s repeated boasting of full implementation of the recommendations,” the lawsuit alleges.

What she wore, did she drink

She alleges she was asked what type of clothes she wore and how easily removable they were, and whether or not she drank alcohol. The university attempted to have her say the alleged assailant may have believed there was consent, according to the suit.

The assailant allegedly told investigators that, aside from kissing, no sexual activity occurred. Doe 11 said she drank two beers and one mixed drink that evening but was not initially affected by it.

However, according to the suit, she experienced dizziness, blurred vision and unconsciousness during the assault. University investigators acknowledged she awoke with blood on her clothes but found that force was not used by the alleged perpetrator, the lawsuit says, and the university also found that the alleged perpetrator asked another woman if she would have group sex with him.

Baylor found that the alleged assailant did not commit an assault, though the same investigators determined he lied about the degree of sexual activity, the suit states.

The Title IX office uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to identify Title IX violations, per federal guidelines.

Baylor found that “ ‘a sober reasonable person’ would not have believed the plaintiff was incapable of consenting due to incapacitation,” according to the lawsuit.

The Title IX office did not respond to her questions about an appeal and did not extend the deadline, the suit alleges.

She alleges she was misinformed by the Title IX office and by Baylor police regarding no-contact and protective orders — at one point being told such orders were “just a piece of paper” and not enforceable.

Police also did not assist Doe 11 after hearing from the alleged assailant, who, according to the suit, asked her for “compassion.”

Doe 11 received “incompletes” in her courses and her financial aid was adversely impacted, according to the suit. She then contacted the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which is already investigating Baylor’s Title IX practices.

Citing a May deposition from then-interim President David Garland, in which Garland claimed he was unaware of details behind the scandal, Dunnam said “it should come as no surprise that changes they claim to have made would not have been adequately implemented.”

Baylor police investigated the report, but no charges were filed.

Baylor has reached out-of-court settlements with at least three other alleged victims of sexual assault and another two by former students who filed suits.

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

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