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A federal judge has granted a motion by Baylor University to dismiss major portions of a Title IX lawsuit filed by a former student who claims she was physically assaulted at least three times by a former Baylor football player.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted Baylor’s motion to dismiss Title IX claims, negligence and gross negligence claims while granting plaintiff Dolores Lozano’s motion to amend her suit to add claims for negligent hiring, retention and supervision.
“Baylor is pleased that the Court has granted the university’s motion to dismiss relating to the plaintiff’s initial allegations under Title IX and of negligence and gross negligence. We look forward to aggressively responding to the remaining allegation of negligent hiring and training once formally filed by the plaintiff,” said Baylor spokesman Jason Cook.
Lozano’s attorney, Ricky K. Patel, from Coral Gables, Florida, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In dismissing the Title IX complaint, Pitman wrote in a 15-page ruling that Lozano’s claims are time-barred by a two-year statute of limitations and that the negligence claims should be dismissed because Baylor had no duty to protect Lozano from her former boyfriend’s violent acts.
Lozano started dating Baylor running back Devin Chafin in 2012.
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Her suit, filed in October 2016, alleges that in March 2014, 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’s now-former 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 (Harris-)Williams that ‘being involved with incidents like Lozano’s were not (Harris-Williams’) responsibility,” according to the allegations. “Despite the severity of what has been reported to Post, she completely disregarded the assault (Harris-)Williams was attempting to report to Post. Post did not advise (Harris-)Williams of any proper or corrective course of action to take.”
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After that, Lozano turned to Baylor sports chaplain Wes Yeary, reporting the assault to him in March 2014.
Yeary gave Lozano literature to assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation, the suit says. Three weeks later, on April 5, 2014, 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.
“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,” the suit states. “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.”
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.
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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 Harris-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 arrested on charges of marijuana possession in March 2016 in Oklahoma. A week later, then-head football coach Art Briles indicated Chafin would return for the 2016-17 season. He instead played that season at Missouri Southern State University.
Pitman is allowing Lozano to amend her lawsuit to include allegations that Baylor failed to meet the standard of care for universities in hiring, retaining, training and supervising its employees, including Post, Yeary and Lebby.