A former Baylor University volleyball player sued the school this week, claiming that the university failed to act on her report of a vicious sexual assault at the hands of Baylor football players. The Baptist university's inaction to curb similar behavior, the woman claims, left her at risk for the assault she suffered.
The Title IX lawsuit is the seventh brought against the university since the release of a report by Philadelphia's Pepper Hamilton law firm last year, detailing the culture of indifference around sexual assault at the school.
The woman, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, attended a party at an apartment belonging to several football players in 2012. While the plaintiff says she was drinking and does not remember portions of the night, the suit claims she remembers being carried to a car and driven to another location. At the second location, she says, at least four football players raped her. Later, other people told her that she might have been attacked by as many as eight men.
After the attack, the woman says, her alleged rapists tried to cover up the incident. "Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts," she recalls one person saying. When she woke up the day after the party, she had several missed calls and texts from a friend who lived in the apartment complex where the alleged attack took place. The friend, the woman says, saw a woman who fit her description being carried around the complex.
In the days and weeks following the alleged attack, the plaintiff says, football players taunted her, telling her she promoted the encounter and that they had sexually compromising pictures of her. After the semester was over, the woman told her mother about the incident. The victim's mother met with a Baylor assistant football coach at a Waco restaurant and gave the coach names of two players allegedly involved in the assault. The plaintiff's mother never heard from the coach again, but that coach spoke to the players allegedly involved, according to court documents filed in another Baylor lawsuit.
In those documents, Baylor regents admit that the coach talked to the players about the incident. The coach told the regents that the players "admitted to 'fooling around,'" and said that the incident existed in a "gray area."
The lawsuit goes on to detail the way Baylor football players "bonded" at parties where upperclassmen drugged and raped female students brought to the parties by freshman. "Photographs and videotapes of the semi-conscious girls would be taken during the gang rapes and circulated amongst the football players," according to the suit. Players also often held dog fights at team parties, the suit says.
On Wednesday afternoon, the university released a statement saying that it has sought a settlement with the volleyball player for months.
"As this case proceeds, Baylor maintains its ability to present facts — as available to the University — in response to the allegations contained in the legal filing," the statement said. "The University's response in no way changes Baylor's position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community."
The suit contends that, according to reports made in the media and in the six other lawsuits, 31 football players committed 52 rapes during former Baylor football coach Art Briles' tenure, which ran from 2011 to 2014. Baylor fired Briles, former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw and former school president Ken Starr last year. While Briles and Starr remain unemployed, Liberty University hired McCaw to be its athletic director earlier this year.
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