Baylor University on Tuesday night was served with a seventh Title IX lawsuit, which alleges as many as eight football players drugged a student and took turns raping her in 2012.
The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit as “Jane Doe,” remembers hearing the players yell, “Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!” following the rape in an off-campus apartment with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, according to the suit.
The lawsuit comes as Baylor continues to deal with fallout from a sexual assault scandal that led to the firing of President Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles and the resignation of Ian McCaw as athletics director almost a year ago. McCaw has since been hired as Liberty University’s director of athletics.
“These girls affected by this are seeking their day in court,” Houston lawyer Muhammad Aziz, who represents the plaintiff, said by phone Wednesday. “We thought about this a lot, and me and my client thought about it and discussed it. Eventually, we decided to proceed. Really, what we are seeking to enforce is just a safe education environment for the girls at the school.”
According to the suit, the football team had a system of hazing freshman recruits by having them bring freshman females to parties to be drugged and gang-raped, “or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls.”
Considered a bonding experience by the players, according to the suit, the rapes also were photographed and videotaped, and the plaintiff confirmed that at least one 21-second videotape of two Baylor students being gang- raped by football players had circulated.
Aziz has sent a subpoena requesting further information from the investigation by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, which conducted a nine-month probe into Baylor’s response to sexual assault allegations and institutional failure to comply with Title IX.
Aziz’s client was allegedly subjected to verbal abuse and public humiliation by football players — some sending her text messages attempting to paint a different picture of the events. One player told her she “wanted it” and said a player had taken nude photos of her and other players during the gang rape, the suit states.
According to a university statement, the school has been in conversation with Aziz for “many months,” attempting to reach a resolution.
“As this case proceeds, Baylor maintains its ability to present facts — as available to the university — in response to the allegations contained in the legal filing,” the statement said. “The university’s response in no way changes Baylor’s position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”
Because of a March ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in a similar lawsuit against Baylor, sexual assault victims have until spring 2018 to sue the university under the Title IX claim that Baylor created a heightened risk of sexual harassment or assault.
According to the suit, Doe told her mother later in the spring 2012 semester, which led to a lunch meeting between the mother and an assistant football coach. The mother listed the players involved to the coach and never again heard from him, the suit says.
This account aligns with allegations made by three Baylor regents in an unrelated legal filing, when the players told the coach the incident was “a little bit of playtime.”
The suit alleges the players then harassed the plaintiff and her family through text messages after creating fake phone numbers. She also was still required to attend classes with two of the players, according to the suit.
In Baylor counseling sessions, Doe was not presented with Title IX-related reporting options but with statistics about how few women report sexual assaults, “in an apparent effort to dissuade” (Doe from taking action), the suit states.
Later, football players allegedly burglarized the woman’s apartment, stealing money and a necklace while throwing clothes and belongings around the room. Doe reported the burglary to Waco police, according to the suit, and no charges were filed based on an understanding that the players would return her belongings.
One of the players allegedly involved in the burglary also previously sent Doe harassing text messages.
“The football player told plaintiff that he never came on to her because she was ‘easy’ and ‘like coach said, we (Baylor football players) don’t want easy,’ ” the suit said.
In a further act of harassment, the suit alleges, the players tried to justify the burglary by spreading rumors that Doe had stolen their dog.
According to the suit, earlier in the year, Doe took a player’s dog to the vet and paid for urgent treatment after the dog was injured in a dogfight organized by football players.
Doe held a meeting with an unfazed Briles, according to the suit, and later recounted the details of the gang rape and burglary to her volleyball coach.
As cited in the regents’ legal filing in February, when Briles learned of the names of the players involved, he said, “Those are some bad dudes . . . why was she around those guys?”
McCaw, athletics director at the time, also did not report the incident to police or Baylor’s judicial affairs office, which was responsible for investigating such incidents.
Bethany McCraw, still a Baylor employee, has been widely criticized for mishandling such investigations when she led Baylor’s judicial affairs office.
During a May 2013 athletics department mission trip to Africa, a football player told Doe he heard that up to eight football players had gang-raped her the previous year, according to the suit. She then decided to withdraw from the university.
Doe told Baylor’s football chaplain about the gang rape after the mission trip, including the names of the players involved, according to the suit. She later learned that he, too, never reported the incident outside of the athletics department.
Wes Yeary, an athletics chaplain and figure in the contentious Sam Ukwuachu trial, left Baylor in March.
The suit’s allegations also align with a Baylor statement in November saying Briles, McCaw, Doe’s volleyball coach and another volleyball coach did not report to anyone outside of the athletic department.
Tom Hill, an athletics administrator who was fired last May amid the fallout from the Pepper Hamilton report to Baylor regents, maintained in November that he heard about the incident and was told it had been reported to McCaw, The Dallas Morning News then reported.
Hill’s then-attorney said Hill was told that he did not need to take further action, yet he reported the incident to his immediate superior anyway. Hill has said he was not given reasoning behind his firing and has since sued Pepper Hamilton, the investigating attorneys and former board Chairman Neal “Buddy” Jones.
In a statement, McCaw’s lawyer, Thomas Brandt, said “it is important to note that at the time Baylor did not have a Title IX office, did not provide Title IX education or have policies or procedures in place for handling and reporting allegations of sexual assault.”
McCaw, not listed as a defendant in the suit, chose “to honor the wishes of the alleged victim, who was unwilling to speak to the police, according to her coach. The head coach of the alleged victim asked Mr. McCaw for guidance as to where he should go with the information he had obtained in 2013 about the incident.”
Brandt said McCaw directed the coach at the time, Jim Barnes, to the Baylor’s judicial affairs office, which McCaw thought “was the appropriate place to take such an allegation.”
According to the regents’ February legal filing, however, no one reported the incident to judicial affairs.
The lawsuit outlines previous claims made in similar lawsuits, including allegations of a football recruiting system in which female students were told to socialize with potential players and were sometimes used to engage in sexual acts with them in efforts to secure their commitments to Baylor.
Baylor regents have said 17 victims of sexual or domestic violence had made reports against 19 football players, including four gang rapes. Another lawsuit says there were at least 52 “acts of rape” by not fewer than 31 players under Briles.