In the onslaught of mishandled sexual assault allegations Baylor University is currently facing, it can knock one off the list.
The settled case involves a former student who alleges she was assaulted at a place called “The Rugby House,” an off-campus residence where Baylor officials had received reports of sexual assault occurring in the past. The plaintiff (who went only by Jane Doe, to protect her identity) did not name her attacker in the lawsuit, although she said he was not a member of the school’s rugby team.
The lawsuit claimed Baylor University had initially offered to help her identify the person who had drugged and kidnapped her, and told her they had received other reports of similar attacks happening at The Rugby House. But the university allegedly gave up the search and stopped contacting Jane Doe five weeks after the incident.
Jane Doe said she was too embarrassed to file a police report, but that her mother had contacted school officials about the incident to see what they were doing about it. Jane Doe dropped out in 2015 and filed her lawsuit against the school in 2016. The details of the settlement have not been released to protect her privacy.
Unfortunately for Jane Doe, the settlement might be too little too late. Dropping out of school can be disastrous for a career and tough to recover from, not to mention the extensive emotional damage done by the attack, which no amount of money can do anything about. But hopefully it sends a message to the school, and to other students, that sexual assault is not something anyone should ignore or try to cover up. This lawsuit, along with the others still facing Baylor, has already had a significant effect by forcing out the university president, the football coach, and several members of the football staff who were accused of helping to cover up allegations of sexual assault in order to keep their players on the team.
Baylor has already agreed to settle with at least three other women who did not file lawsuits, but were allegedly assaulted. But more than a dozen other women have filed at least five other lawsuits against Baylor for allegedly violating Title IX by failing to properly investigate allegations of sexual assault on campus, and even covering up the alleged assaults that were brought to their attention. Those lawsuits are still waiting for settlements or rulings, in addition to criminal and federal civil rights investigations into the university’s sports program. The NCAA is also conducting its own investigation into Baylor’s sports program. If they don’t like what they find, the alleged coverups may have had the opposite of their desired effect, although the coach who was fired continues to insist there was no coverup and he did nothing wrong.
The school released a statement, saying they were happy with the settlement agreement, although they would not say anything more out of respect for Jane Doe’s privacy in the matter. Hopefully we’ll see some policy changes as a result of the onslaught of lawsuits.
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