3 more women join in Baylor suit over reaction to rape allegations

Three more women have joined a Title IX lawsuit filed earlier this month against Baylor, joining three other women in the complaint, including one who named a football player as her alleged assailant.

The lawsuit was originally filed June 15 and referred to three women as Jane Does. Tuesday's amendment adds three more women, also anonymous. None of the alleged assailants are named, and attorney Chad Dunn said that the three new plaintiffs were not assaulted by football players, although he said that one alleged assailant could be an athlete.

"We've heard from others, and as we visit with them about their situations I anticipate we'll add more plaintiffs to the lawsuit," Dunn said.

Three Title IX lawsuits are currently pending against Baylor. The first was filed in March by former Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez, who was raped by former Baylor defensive end Tevin Elliott, convicted in January 2014 of the assault. Hernandez, who came out publicly with the filing of her lawsuit, met recently with Baylor officials to try to mediate the case, and that mediation failed.

The most recent lawsuit was filed June 20 by a woman, also unidentified, who said she was drugged and taken from an off-campus residence known as "The Rugby House" and assaulted in February 2015, although not by a member of Baylor's rugby club team.

The lawsuits and plaintiffs are different, but the overall claim is the same: Baylor University officials failed to properly investigate their claims of sexual assault and failed to provide them with academic and counseling support.

"Due to the deeply personal and sensitive nature of individual cases and federal law, we do not publicly address specific cases, even when a student publicly shares details or reports of his or her own experience," Baylor said in a statement released at the time of the June 15 lawsuit filing. "This safeguard also helps assure other students that their right to confidentiality will be protected. The decision to report to the university or other authorities is a brave and personal choice and occurs on the student's timetable. We're committed to and have already begun to implement changes in order to provide a safe and supportive environment for students and faculty."

Baylor has been at the center of nationwide attention over its handling of sexual assault allegations and investigations, including several that have involved athletes. In recent weeks, Baylor has dealt with the fallout from that negative attention: the demotion and then resignation of former university president and chancellor Kenneth Starr; the pending firing of football coach Art Briles; the suspension and then resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw; and the firings of multiple athletic department employees. At least one lawsuit has been filed, and a complaint about school officials' handling of sexual assault cases has been made to the U.S. Department of Education.

Despite being a private school, Baylor is required by the federal Title IX statute to investigate allegations of sexual assault and violence thoroughly and to provide security, counseling services and academic help to those who report assaults. Part of the law's goal is to help keep victims in school.

According to the amendment filed Tuesday, Jane Doe 4 was a pre-med student and was sexually assaulted by another student on April 7, 2014. She reported the assault to someone at the Baylor counseling center, to judicial affairs and unspecified faulty members, but she said no one ever started an investigation or informed her of her rights, according to the lawsuit. "Oftentimes the Baylor personnel would discourage Jane Doe 4 from describing what had happened to her," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also stated that a few days after the assault, she attempted suicide by slitting her wrists, and that "prevented her from playing volleyball for some time." But Dunn would not say whether she was a member of Baylor's volleyball team.

Jane Doe 4 would run into the alleged assailant on campus, "causing her to run into a neighboring bathroom and vomit," and she was hospitalized for a panic attack. The lawsuit states that she had to seek counseling elsewhere, her academics suffered and she graduated in May 2015 with a much lower GPA than she had anticipated.

Jane Doe 5 reported being assaulted by a fellow student, with whom she had recently ended a relationship, in November 2005. She said she reported it to the counseling center and was discouraged from making any sort of formal report, according to the lawsuit.

She heard her assailant might have assaulted other women, and in February 2006 tried to make a report with Waco police, the lawsuit states, but was told that too much time had passed to start an investigation.

She indicated the emotional impact of the assault caused her grades to slip, she lost her financial aid and she ended up leaving Baylor and enrolling instead at the University of Texas-Arlington in fall 2008.

The last plaintiff, Jane Doe 6, also reported an assault from 2005, and said she was drugged at a bar and then assaulted by a fellow student. The lawsuit states she reported the incident to a professor, who let her re-take an exam, and she reported the incident to Baylor police, "but they refused to take a report."

The alleged assault had a significant impact on her physical and emotional well-being, and the lawsuit states that, "In June 2013, Jane Doe 6 sent a letter to the University President regarding the mistreatment of her sexual assault report, but no response was ever received."

Dunn did not say whether the letter was sent directly to Starr, but he said the woman still has a copy of the letter.

Dunn said the lawsuit did not name anyone individually in order to protect privacy and out of concern for retaliation and harassment against the parties involved.

"This lawsuit isn't about punishing anyone," he said. "This lawsuit is about improving the lives for these specific plaintiffs. To the extent that we can persuade the university to take important steps to protect sexual assault victims that benefit not just these plaintiffs but other student at the university today and down the road."

Among the three women who originally filed the June 15 lawsuit was Jane Doe 1, who claimed that she was assaulted at an on-campus residence hall April 26, 2014, by a member of the football team.

The lawsuit stated that Jane Doe 1 also reported the alleged assault to the Baylor campus advocacy center during final exams, but the university did not provide her any assistance, and she was "left to cope with the situation alone and in fear." It states that she would see her alleged assailant at football games, would become upset and would be forced to leave. Stress caused her to perform poorly in her classes, the suit says, and she lost her academic scholarship and dropped out after fall 2015.

The incident involving Jane Doe 2, one of the original plaintiffs, alleges an assault from 2004 that had bearing on the plaintiff's attempt to re-enroll at Baylor in 2015. Jane Doe 2 says she was assaulted at a house a few blocks from campus in September 2004, while she was under age 18, according to the lawsuit. She reported it to her chaplain at the Baylor dorm, and the dorm hall director was informed. She also made a report to Baylor police, who she states misinformed and concealed from her the consequences for filing a report, which discouraged her from naming the person who she said assaulted her. When she went to the Baylor Health Center, she said they did a physical exam but not a rape kit.

After her alleged assailant sneaked up behind her on campus and she ran into the office of a nearby professor, she ended up reporting the incident to an assistant dean, who later encouraged her to withdraw from school after her grades began to suffer, the lawsuit states. She left in May 2008 but decided to return in fall 2015.

The lawsuit states that she was permitted to resume her studies but that Baylor "would not allow her grade forgiveness for the failed courses during her earlier attendance following the assault, even when provided with the horrific reasons for her personal academic struggles, and even though [Baylor] was fully aware of the circumstances." The lawsuit states she's now suspended, but it did not explain why.

The other original plaintiff, Jane Doe 3, said that she and her alleged assailant were both staff members at the university dorms and that he sexually harassed and assaulted her from fall 2013 through December 2015. Although the lawsuit did not name him, it stated he was "an assistant to the highest officials in the University."

According to the lawsuit, she sought counseling in fall 2014, but after she exhausted her free sessions, the Baylor counseling center told her she'd have to look elsewhere for treatment. The lawsuit states that she also reported the alleged assault to the health center and eventually to Baylor police, but it did not state when.

Baylor has already reached a financial settlement with a former women's soccer player who was sexually assaulted by former Bears football player Sam Ukwuachu. The woman reached an undisclosed settlement with the school in late December without filing a lawsuit. In August, Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years' probation, the maximum sentence allowed under Texas law when a jury recommends probation.

Attorney John Clune of Boulder, Colorado, who represented the former Baylor women's soccer player in her case against the school, told Outside the Lines last month that he could have as many as three additional victims who might file lawsuits against Baylor.