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Lawsuit: Baylor Slow to Investigate Reported Assault

Paul Steinbach

A former Baylor University equestrian athlete filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas, alleging the school's Title IX investigators were too slow in handling her report of a 2017 sexual assault by football players.

The poor response caused the plaintiff mental distress and forced her to withdraw from Baylor, according to the lawsuit.

As reported by ESPN, the woman alleges that two football players assaulted her and a friend Nov. 11, 2017 while a third player recorded the incident, sharing one or more videos with "a freshman football Snapchat group." The women were incapacitated by alcohol at the time, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the university was notified of the alleged assault five days after the fact, but didn't inform the plaintiff of its punitive action until nearly a year later — Oct. 18, 2018. At that time, Baylor notified the accuser that one player had been expelled and another cleared of any sexual misconduct policy violations. In March 2018, redshirt freshmen John Arthur and Tre'Von Lewis were suspended from the football team, but a grand jury declined to indict either individual in connection with the assault. Neither were on the Bears' roster last fall. The player who videotaped the incident was found responsible and banned from campus.

According to a university statement, "All of the respondents were found responsible for one or more of the allegations against them, and none are enrolled at Baylor any longer."

The statement notes that on the same day athletics officials learned about the incident, they reported it to the Title IX office, they suspended the players from all team activities "within 36 hours of the incident report," and the school established interim measures during the investigation "to limit contact among the involved parties as reasonably as possible." As to the time taken to investigate, the statement notes that this was a "complex case" involving more than three students who filed complaints, four students who were accused of misconduct, and "multiple allegations by each of the three complainants against each of the respondents." The investigation involved more than 30 interviews, according to the statement, which reads, "From the initial report to the final adjudication, Baylor's Title IX policies and procedures were followed in how the incident was reported, investigated and ultimately adjudicated."

The plaintiff found the number of interviews was unnecessary and included some of the woman's friends who did not know about the assault prior to being questioned, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also states that the woman felt her privacy was violated when video of the incident was shown to individuals being interviewed.

As for her own experience being interviewed, the woman felt as though one of the investigators "questioned her harshly and confusingly, in the manner of a police interrogation."

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