As the national discussion on sexual assault has shifted to Michigan State University and the USA Gymnastics scandal, Baylor University’s legal fallout in its own sexual assault scandal continues.
Another former student has sued the school under Title IX, alleging her months of anxiety after she was sexually assaulted are tied to Baylor’s insufficient response to her claims.
Additionally, several former administrators, including former Athletics Director Ian McCaw, were subpoenaed in a separate lawsuit this week.
Known as Jane Doe 15, the plaintiff alleges she was sexually assaulted by another student in February 2016, about three months before Baylor regents fired Ken Starr as president and then-head football coach Art Briles at the crux of the scandal. A summary of an investigation commissioned by the regents detailed “fundamental failure” in Baylor’s Title IX implementation and a football program operating “above the rules” in not reporting rape allegations outside of its department.
Doe 15 received a sexual assault nurse’s exam at a local hospital and filed a Waco police report after the assault, the lawsuit alleges. Three professors then visited her, and one of them notified Baylor’s Title IX office. The alleged victim reported to Baylor police, according to the suit, and her parents also contacted Baylor police and a Baylor chaplain to report the assault and request assistance.
Starr was notified by the alleged victim’s father, according to the suit.
Doe 15 alleges the university’s Title IX office assured her academic accommodations, counseling, relocation and a protective order.
Martha Lou Scott, associate vice president for student life, told her such accommodations could not be made through her office, according to the suit. And because she lived off campus, the Title IX office allegedly could not help her relocate, though the alleged assailant lived in the same complex. The Title IX office referred her to a Baylor chaplain for housing assistance, which was unsuccessful, according to the lawsuit.
“The appearance of having programs and people in place to assist victims of sexual assault severely disadvantaged Jane Doe 15 as she falsely assumed Baylor would follow through on its commitments to her,” the lawsuit states.
Doe 15 was allegedly told that her assailant would be arrested if he set foot on campus. According to the lawsuit, he was not arrested when he did, though the university was aware of it and did not tell her.
This led her to become “actively fearful” of him, and the woman’s concerns were relayed to the Title IX office, Baylor police and a professor by her and her parents, the suit alleges. She was subjected to further harassment by other students over her report, according to the complaint, and the Title IX office did not act when notified of the harassment.
Two months into the Title IX investigation, Doe 15 was allegedly told Baylor “could only assist with classes and happiness” and suggested she obtain legal counsel, the lawsuit states. The Title IX investigation later found the assailant responsible for violating the school’s policy, and she allegedly was not told about the decision in a timely fashion.
The assailant was permanently expelled within weeks of Doe 15’s report, according to a Baylor statement.
“We intend to respond to these specific allegations through the appropriate legal channels, and, thus, decline to comment further at this time,” the statement said.
Because her case was closed, Doe 15 was allegedly told she could not receive other assistance. The Title IX office, according to the suit, suggested her mother move to Waco, adding that other victims’ mothers had done so.
She then used seven free sessions from Baylor’s counseling center and was charged for others, the lawsuit alleges, and involvement from her mother led to the payments being dismissed.
Doe 15 alleges Baylor’s counseling center often canceled appointments without rescheduling and did not have time to see her. The counselor assigned to Doe 15 allegedly left Baylor that fall, stating she “could not do her best work for victims at Baylor.”
The lawsuit states Doe 15 became suicidal in the wake of Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford’s explosive departure in October 2016. Crawford alleged on a national morning TV show and another prime time program that she was not supported by the university. The university pushed back on her allegations.
Doe 15 missed academic opportunities and feared the campus because of the assault, according to the suit.
“She attempted to avoid her assailant but fear of casually running into him made her anxious in public at all times,” the suit states.
Baylor’s ignorance of her mental health — the effects of which hindered her ability to find work after she graduated — led to Baylor’s Title IX failure, according to the suit.
Jim Dunnam, the woman’s Waco-based lawyer, declined to comment further on the complaint. Dunnam also represents three other women in the same Title IX lawsuit.
“Our hearts go out to any student who has experienced sexual assault,” the Baylor statement said. “Any such incident involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. ... Baylor has taken unprecedented actions and implemented infrastructure, policies and procedures in response to the issue of past and alleged sexual assaults involving our campus community. Our unwavering commitment is to our students — to continue to educate, train and respond appropriately to interpersonal violence and to work continuously to ensure a safe, supportive and healthy campus for all students.”
Subpoenaed for documents
In another lawsuit with 10 plaintiffs, also filed by Dunnam and Houston attorney Chad Dunn, key former Baylor administrators were subpoenaed to produce documents related to the scandal and ensuing investigations. A third lawsuit, also filed by Dunnam, involves one plaintiff who is named in the suit as Jane Doe 11.
The people subpoenaed include McCaw, former deputy Athletics Director Todd Patulski and former Title IX investigator Ian McRary. McCaw and Patulski now work at Liberty University in the same roles. McRary is associate general counsel at Liberty.
Also subpoenaed was former Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak and former human resources staffer Migdalia Holgersson. Doak, who left the university in 2014, was accused by former interim President David Garland, under oath, of discouraging rape victims from reporting the incidents.
“They were all custodians who Baylor identified as having relevant materials or we know they had some involvement one way or another,” Dunnam said.