A week after a woman shared on social media her displeasure that a Texas A&M student found responsible for sexually assaulting her had been allowed to return to the university's swim team, reports indicate that the swimmer has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school.
Austin Van Overdam, who served a one-semester suspension during a season in which he was redshirted, claims in his court filing that A&M was partial to the accuser's testimony over his, and that A&M "creates an environment in which men accused of sexual misconduct are nearly assured of a finding of responsibility," as reported by the The Bryan-College Station Eagle. He seeks a jury trial in pursuit of unspecified monetary punitive and compensatory damages based on future career earnings, loss of scholarship funds and "humiliation and embarrassment," as well as attorney's fees.
According to The Eagle, Van Overdam and Hannah Shaw met on the dating app Tindr in September 2015. The lawsuit states that after a few private messages on the app, Shaw went to Van Overdam's apartment, where the two had sex, and that "at no time did Shaw protest or voice any concerns regarding any actions that Van Overdam and/or Shaw engaged in."
Shaw insists she has been truthful throughout, beginning with statements made during the initial 2016 student conduct hearing. "I told them that, 'I brought this to you guys because I was violated by him, and I know that he doesn't think that he did anything wrong. I want him to know that he seriously hurt me, and I don't want this to happen to anyone else,'" Shaw said. "I told them that, 'I didn't do this to ruin his life. I'm not trying to get back at him.' I told them, 'I don't think you should expel him, because I'm not trying to ruin his life.' Looking back on it, I feel like they kind of used my own empathy against me."
During a week of heavy scrutiny over the Van Overdam case, multiple women have insisted that A&M has mishandled similar proceedings, and university president Michael Young has vowed an internal and external review of the school's sexual misconduct policies and procedures, according to the Dallas News.
In a statement, Van Overdam attorney Gaines West said, "A&M seems more concerned with being politically correct, rather than embracing that the Title IX law is meant to protect both women and men."