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Suit claims Baylor's new policies failed in sexual assault investigation

WACO, Texas -- A woman who reported that she had been sexually assaulted filed a lawsuit Monday against Baylor University, alleging questions she faced from the university shifted blame away from her attacker and toward her.

The lawsuit, filed in a Waco federal court, alleges Baylor's response to the reported attack violated federal Title IX laws against gender discrimination. That was even though university officials said new policies had been implemented before the alleged attack in response to a sexual violence scandal that embroiled the Baylor football program.

"I think that, unfortunately, it's an example of how things still have not changed," Jim Dunnam, a Waco lawyer representing the student, told the Waco Tribune-Herald. Dunnam and Houston lawyer Chad Dunn jointly represent 10 former students who allege that their sexual assaults weren't handled adequately.

This lawsuit alleges the student, who Dunn said still attends Baylor and is identified in the suit only as "Jane Doe 11," was attacked in April 2017 while a sophomore attending under two scholarships, one academic and one need-based. The lawsuit says the student underwent a sexual assault examination by a nurse and the assault was reported to Waco and university police and Baylor's Title IX office. The person she accused, who is not an athlete, told investigators that, aside from kissing, no sexual activity occurred. Baylor police investigated but filed no charges, the lawsuit states.

When the student was interviewed by a Title IX official, she was asked what she had been wearing at the time of the attack, how easily the clothing could be removed, and what she had to drink and whether it was alcoholic, according to the lawsuit. The university tried to have the student say the alleged assailant might have believed the assault was consensual, the 20-page complaint states.

The experience "directly contradicted any assurance that meaningful change had occurred ... despite the university's repeated boasting of full implementation of the recommendations," the complaint says, referring to the 105 recommendations made in the Pepper Hamilton report to improve Baylor's response to sexual assault allegations in the wake of the football scandal.

In a statement issued Monday, the Baylor administration said the university "takes any allegation of sexual violence within our campus community seriously." Otherwise, university officials were still reviewing the complaint and had no further comment, according to the statement.

This is the eighth lawsuit filed amid the growing scandal and the fifth still active.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.