Baylor Campus

A Title IX lawsuit against Baylor University will proceed, according to a federal ruling Saturday.

A federal judge on Saturday denied Baylor University’s request to fully dismiss the claims of four women who said they were sexually assaulted while attending the school between 2012 and 2016.

The unnamed plaintiffs allege they were further victimized by Baylor’s counseling center, police department, Title IX office or other student services after making the reports.

The claims include two aspects of Title IX failures: that Baylor failed to investigate the claims of plaintiffs and increased the risk of sexual assault for all students; and that Baylor policies and selective enforcement fostered an environment rife with assault, harassment and the denial of educational opportunities for female students.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman allowed the plaintiffs’ heightened risk claims to continue and allowed three of the plaintiffs’ claims that Baylor was deliberately indifferent to their claims.

Pitman’s decision was basically identical to his prior ruling in a Title IX lawsuit that includes 10 plaintiffs represented by the same attorneys, Jim Dunnam of Waco and Chad Dunn of Houston.

“Our clients are pleased that their case is now going to move forward,” Dunnam said. “The judge’s ruling is consistent with his rulings for the last 18 months. So I’ll say that we’re pleased.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in September last year, includes allegations of a gang rape committed by two football players, a rape committed by a member of Baylor’s club rugby team and breakdowns in the ways the victims’ reports were handled.

In a statement, Baylor said Pitman dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims of negligence and breach of contract, as he has previously done.

“The University will continue in our efforts to focus on the specific claims made by the individual plaintiffs in their pleadings and not on matters that lack relevance before the court,” according to the statement.

Baylor faces Title IX claims from 15 plaintiffs who say they were sexually assaulted while attending Baylor. The school has settled five lawsuits and faces several investigations tied to the sexual assault scandal that led to the May 2016 firings of Ken Starr as president and Art Briles as head football coach.

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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