Lawsuit claims former volleyball player gang-raped by up to 8 Baylor University football players
HOUSTON — A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a former Baylor University volleyball player who says she was brutally gang-raped by up to eight football players in 2012. The lawsuit claims that university staff and officials ignored the student’s cries, and the cries of countless other women who also reported being raped by male athletes enrolled at the university.
The volleyball player, who was enrolled at Baylor from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2013, says the alleged rape happened at a party thrown by Baylor football players. Afterward, she says, she was bullied, harassed and taunted, forcing her to leave the school.
The lawsuit alleges that the sexual assault, and countless others, occurred during what has become the “most violent and atrocious in school history.”
According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim and several of her friends went to a house party at the Outpost apartment complex on Feb.11, 2012.
The student said she consumed a few drinks and was very intoxicated. Her friends speculated that she may also have been drugged.
During the party, the student’s friend saw one football player trying to pull her into a bathroom several times. The student said that another Baylor football player kept grabbing at her throughout the night, and she repeatedly told him “no.” The student said, on the day before, she repeatedly declined the football player’s requests to “hook up” with him.
The student said her friends left her at the party and, afterward, one of the football players picked her up and put her in his vehicle. He took her somewhere, where she was allegedly sexually assaulted by between four and eight football players.
The student said she remembers lying on her back, unable to move and staring at glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling as the football players took turns raping her. The student said, following the gang rape, she heard the players yell, “Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!”
The student said she woke up at her friend’s apartment on the next morning. She was confused, hurt, embarrassed and broke down in tears.
According to the lawsuit, the student checked her cellphone and noticed that she had numerous missed calls and text messages from one of her friends who lived in the Outpost Apartment complex. The friend told her that he had seen Baylor football players carry a girl into one of the player’s apartments. He asked if it was her.
The student said she also noticed that phone numbers belonging to two of the football players allegedly involved in the rape had been deleted from her phone.
After that, the taunting began.
The student said she was repeatedly subjected to verbal abuse and public humiliation by Baylor football players. She said players sent several text messages to her in which they attempted to paint a completely different picture of what happened that night. She says that one of the players told her that it was consensual and that she “wanted it.” That same football player also taunted her, claiming that nude photographs of her was taken that night.
At the end of the spring 2012 semester, the student told her mother about the alleged sexual assault. In July 2012, the mother called an assistant football coach who met with the mother at a deli in Waco to discuss the matter. During the meeting, the mother told the assistant football coach that her daughter had been raped by several Baylor football players, and provided the coach with a list of the players who were allegedly involved, according to the lawsuit.
The mother said she never heard from the coach again.
The lawsuit said the alleged victim was forced to face her assailants around campus, in the classroom and even during volleyball practice and training sessions, as the Baylor football team and women’s volleyball team shared training facilities.
During the spring of 2013, the student had a class with two of the Baylor football players involved in the alleged gang rape, adding to her emotional distress. She said a football player burglarized her apartment in Feb. 2013 and sent her taunting text messages saying she was easy, and “like coach said we [Baylor football players] don’t want easy.”
During the early part of spring 2013, the student attended a few counseling sessions at the Baylor University Counseling Center, where she informed her counselor of the incident, including the names of the players who allegedly sexually assaulted her.
The lawsuit claims, in an effort to dissuade the student, the counselor cited statistics about the number of women who decide not to report sexual assaults. The counselor did not mention Title IX, Plaintiff’s rights or options for reporting the sexual assault, or any accommodations, whether academic or otherwise, which could be made for Plaintiff.
In April 2013, the student’s apartment was burglarized — allegedly by Baylor football players. The burglars stole money and a necklace, and threw the student’s clothing and belongings all over her room. The student reported the burglary to the Waco Police Department, but no charges were filed.
The daughter transferred out of Baylor in 2013.
According to the lawsuit, several Baylor Board of Regents members recently acknowledged that the alleged victim’s mother met with the assistant football coach and informed him of the alleged sexual assault.
The regents’ members also acknowledged that the coach spoke to two of the football players involved in the incident, and they reportedly admitted to “fooling around” with student, calling the incident “a little bit of playtime.”
The lawsuit said the assistant football coach concluded that the accusations, to him, were in a “gray area” and there was no definitive evidence of sexual assault.
The lawsuit goes on to say, “Prior to Plaintiff’s arrival at Baylor, Baylor officials permitted a campus condition rife with sexual assault and completely lacking the basic standards of support for victims as required by federal and state law.This case arises from Baylor’s deliberately indifferent response to multiple events of student-on-student sexual assault and subsequent sex-based harassment.”
“Baylor’s failure to promptly and appropriately investigate and respond to the assaults allowed a condition to be created that substantially increased Plaintiff’s chances of being sexually assaulted, as well as others. Moreover, Baylor’s failure to promptly and appropriately investigate and respond to these assaults furthered sexual harassment and a hostile environment, effectively denying Plaintiff, and other female students, access to educational opportunities. Plaintiff brings this action to redress a hostile educational environment pursuant to Title IX.”
The lawsuit said that it was not the first time a student had been attacked and intimidated by football players at the university.
In Feb. 2013, an assistant coach notified Head Football Coach Art Briles that a football player had brandished a gun at a female student-athlete. Investigators reportedly uncovered the following text messages between the assistant coach and Briles:
Briles: “what a fool – she reporting to authorities.”
Assistant coach: “She’s acting traumatized…Trying to talk her clam
now…Doesn’t seem to want to report though.”
Briles: “U gonna talk to [the player.”
Assistant coach: “Yes sir, just did. Caught him on the way to class…Squeezed
him pretty good.”
In Jan. 2017, a Baylor graduate filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, alleging a culture of sexual violence that included 52 rapes in four years. The suit alleges coaching staff members encouraged a culture of sexual violence by arranging for women to have sex with recruits on official campus visits.
Baylor University released the following statement on Wednesday:
“The alleged incident outlined in the court filing occurred more than five years ago, and Baylor University has been in conversations with the victim’s legal counsel for many months in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution.
“Baylor has since initiated and structurally completed 105 wide-ranging recommendations in response to issues of sexual violence within our campus community, in addition to making changes within the university and athletics leadership and investing significantly in student support services.
“As this case proceeds, Baylor maintains its ability to present facts – as available to the University – in response to the allegations contained in the legal filing. The University’s response in no way changes Baylor’s position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”
More information about Baylor’s response to sexual violence can be found at www.baylor.edu/TheFacts.