Former Baylor University Title IX investigator Gabrielle Lyons is continuing her legal battle against the school, claiming once again that her superiors “viewed Title IX compliance as adverse to the university’s core values and missions.”
A complaint filed last week alleges university leadership constructed administrative barriers to protect football players Lyons tried to interview about Title IX cases and retaliated against staffers who investigated allegations of sexual violence.
Though U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman dismissed her 2017 Title IX lawsuit against the school in January, he gave her an opportunity to submit a new complaint containing more specific allegations supporting her claims. Lyons, who worked at Baylor for about seven months in 2015, took that opportunity.
“We have amended the complaint pursuant to the court’s order,” Lyons’ attorney, Rogge Dunn, said in an email. “We are confident that the pleadings are sufficient to support Ms. Lyons’ claims and ultimately a jury verdict in her favor.”
Lyons publicly accused Baylor of violating Title IX in January 2017 in an interview with ESPN. In the wake of the controversial resignation of Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford, Lyons echoed her former boss’s claims that top administrators, including former Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower, discouraged them from doing their jobs.
Baylor strongly disputed those claims, citing a growing Title IX office budget, salary increases and work space expansion.
Julie Springer, Baylor’s outside counsel, said the school also denies Lyons’ latest allegations, most of which have been previously raised in some form.
“During Ms. Lyons’ brief employment with the university, Baylor was actively working to establish a greater and more robust Title IX presence, regardless of whether accused students were football players, and any allegation to the contrary is false,” Springer said in a statement. “The Court rightly dismissed the claims in Ms. Lyons’ original complaint, and Baylor will be asking for dismissal of the claims in her amended complaint as well.”
Lyons alleges Baylor would designate a “gatekeeper” from the athletics department or the board of regents to impede the Title IX office’s ability to interview football players. The most blatant instance of this came when Colin Shillinglaw, a former top lieutenant of former head football coach Art Briles, gave Lyons a wrong cellphone number for a star football player who was a potential witness to an assault allegedly committed by another football player, according to the lawsuit.
Shillinglaw then refused to schedule meetings with Lyons and the witness, according to the lawsuit. Shillinglaw was fired in the summer of 2016 after regents released a 13-page summary of the Pepper Hamilton LLP investigation that rocked the university. He then, unsuccessfully, pursued legal action against Baylor and other administrators, regents and lawyers.