More than 15 months after Baylor University regents admitted significant failures in Title IX implementation, the school on Friday was hit with another lawsuit from former students alleging their educational opportunities were denied due to inadequate responses to sexual violence they experienced.
Waco attorney Jim Dunnam and Houston attorney Chad Dunn filed the suit on behalf of three plaintiffs — one of whom alleges she was gang raped by two football players in April 2016.
This is the 10th Title IX lawsuit Baylor has faced since March 2016, which was two months before regents fired Ken Starr as president and Art Briles as head football coach amid a sexual assault scandal. Baylor has settled three lawsuits and has also reached agreements with at least three other alleged victims.
A former acrobatics coach intends to file a Title IX suit next week, her lawyer said Thursday, which would bring the total such suits against Baylor to 11.
“Baylor University has placed a top priority on the safety and security of our students, as evidenced by the many changes that have occurred within the campus community since May 2016,” a university statement said on Friday. “We will reserve further comment until we have the opportunity to learn more about the concerns raised in the filing.”
Dunnam and Dunn now have three active lawsuits against Baylor representing 14 plaintiffs.
The first two plaintiffs in this lawsuit, Jane Does 12 and 13, allege they were assaulted by fellow Baylor students in March 2016 and April 2012, respectively.
“It’s simply incredible that Baylor’s mistreatment of these young women continues up until this very moment,” Dunnam said, referring to Jane Doe 14’s allegation that Baylor would not let her re-enroll this fall due to an alleged conduct violation — the nature of which Doe 14 was informed of Thursday — regarding text messages she exchanged with a Baylor student while she was enrolled at another school during the 2016-2017 school year.
Though Baylor initially denied Doe 14’s attempt to re-enroll, the school has since changed course and is allowing her to take classes this semester.
Doe 12 alleges she immediately told a friend and another student about the March 2016 assault and then told a professor two weeks later. The professor told a department head and, ultimately, an email was sent to Baylor’s Title IX office, the suit says. The office told Doe 12 that she could file a Title IX complaint, a police report or both, according to the suit.
A police investigation would last five years, Doe claims she was told by Baylor, and it would likely derail her academic plans. She was also told that if her assailant graduated prior to a police investigation concluding, Baylor could not punish him, the suit says.
Her Title IX case went untouched for one week while an investigator was on vacation, the suit alleges, and she suffered anxiety for months. An outside counselor Baylor referred her to did not take her insurance, so she canceled the appointment despite Baylor encouraging her to keep it, the suit states.
The Title IX office found the alleged assailant responsible for the incident and issued a no-contact order for the duration of his time at Baylor, the lawsuit says. After appeal, the assailant was allegedly suspended for three semesters, while Doe 12 struggled mentally and academically.
Doe 13 reported her alleged April 2012 assault to the counseling center the following semester and was not informed of investigatory actions the university could take, according to the suit. The suit alleges she was again assaulted that semester by a member of the rugby team. Baylor’s counseling center did not inform her of her rights under Title IX, nor could it take appointments with her due to the number of students already with appointments, according to Doe 13.
She was assaulted again by the second alleged perpetrator, the rugby player, on a study abroad trip, which caused more educational and mental setbacks, according to the suit.
Doe 14 claims she was gang raped in April 2016 by two football players at student housing owned by Baylor. She said she reported the incident to the counseling center, Baylor’s police department and to the Title IX office and was “manipulated into not pursuing her rights,” according to the suit, which claims Doe 14 was misled regarding her reporting options and Title IX protections.
A professor allegedly told her that “life goes on” after she reported the assault and asked for assistance in class.
She transferred to another college after the assault, the suit alleges. Doe 14 was initially denied re-enrollment at Baylor because of a judicial affairs hold, which was not immediately specified. Baylor later allowed her to re-enroll and set a conduct hearing, but Doe 14 was not told until Thursday that the school was accusing her of breaking a misconduct rule within text messages she allegedly sent to a Baylor student while she was at the second college.
The suit does not indicate if action was taken against Doe 14’s alleged perpetrators.
Baylor has structurally completed over 100 recommendations from a law firm to improve its response to sexual violence, the university said in May.