WACO, Texas (CN) – A former student-athlete claims she was brutally gang-raped by at least four Baylor University football players because the school ignored reports of sexual assault, in addition to other athlete behavior like dog fighting.
Jane Doe sued Baylor in Waco federal court on Tuesday, alleging Title IX violations.
Doe was a student-athlete on Baylor women’s volleyball team from 2011 to 2013. She blames her alleged rape on the university’s indifferent attitude towards student-on-student sexual assault.
“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,” the lawsuit says.
The complaint alleges that Baylor football’s recruiting practices under head coach Art Briles resulted in the widespread culture of sexual violence at the university.
Before Briles came to Baylor in 2008, the school had one of the worst football teams in the Big 12 Conference. But under Briles, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, the team evolved into a national title contender.
The complaint says the sudden success turned Baylor football players into celebrities on campus, with then-President and Chancellor Kenneth Starr calling it Baylor’s “Golden Era.”
Baylor football staff allegedly used sex to sell the program to potential recruits through a so-called “show ‘em a good time” policy, Doe’s lawsuit claims. This allegedy meant that Baylor football players could engage in unrestricted behavior without consequences.
Doe says such behavior included: players arranging for women, alcohol and illegal drugs for parties when recruits were in town; taking underage recruits to bars and strip clubs; and paying for off-campus football parties, where gang rapes of women by players allegedly occurred.
The university also used its female hostess program, called the Baylor Bruins, to recruit players, Doe says.
“Though the Bruins had an official policy of no sexual contact with the recruits or football players, Baylor had an unofficial policy of looking the other way when there was sexual intercourse between the Bruins and the football players,” the complaint says.
Doe says the lure of sex to Baylor recruits “directly contributed to the creation of a culture of sexual violence that permeated Baylor and its football program.”
She also blames Briles and other members of the Baylor football program for enabling a culture in which she says players were “above the law.”
“In several instances when football coaches were alerted to player’s misconduct—whether it be rape, dating violence, physical assault, or burglary—the coaches did nothing to investigate the accusations to determine whether their players were responsible,” the complaint states.
According to the lawsuit, the atmosphere of sexual violence at Baylor was likewise encouraged by hazing rituals at football players’ house parties. Gang rapes that occurred at such parties were considered a “bonding” experience for the players, Doe alleges.
“At these parties, the girls would be drugged and gang raped, or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls,” the lawsuit states. “Photographs and videotapes of the semi-conscious girls would be taken during the gang rapes and circulated amongst the football players…Plaintiff has confirmed that at least one, 21-second videotape of two female Baylor students being gang raped by several Baylor football players was circulated amongst football players.”
These parties also allegedly featured dog fighting. A dog nearly died from one of the fights, Doe claims.
Recent reports cited in the lawsuit say there were at least 52 acts of rape by at least 31 football players at Baylor from 2011 to 2014. The university has dismissed only two of those football players, the complaint notes, which also says that most of the rapes happened at off-campus parties hosted by Baylor football players.
Doe’s lawsuit gives an overview of the social environment at Baylor going back to 2004, which she claims shows that the alleged rape culture at the university evolved as the football team experienced more success.
She says that at the time of her alleged rape in 2012, Baylor was well-aware of the risk of sexual violence to female students.
“Both prior to and after plaintiff’s sexual assault, Baylor received countless reports of sexual assault and dating violence. Incredibly, Baylor reported to the Department of Education zero incidents of sexual assault from 2008-2011,” the complaint states.
Baylor’s Board of Regents has acknowledged the culture of sexual violence, Doe says.
One regent allegedly said, “There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else…We did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK.”
The lawsuit describes the night of Doe’s alleged gang rape on Feb. 11, 2012. She was with some friends at a house party at the off-campus Outpost Apartment Complex, which is a common residence for Baylor football players. She says she had a few drinks, but at one point she became very intoxicated and could not remember certain parts of that night.
“Upon information and belief, plaintiff had been drugged by football players. This is consistent with allegations made by other victims and witnesses,” the complaint states.
At the party, Doe’s friend allegedly saw a football player trying to pull Doe into a bathroom several times. Doe recalled another Baylor player who kept grabbing at her throughout the night, and that she repeatedly told him “no.” Doe had declined the player’s requests to “hook up” with him the day before, she claims.
Doe says that after her friends left the party, she remembers one football player picking her up, putting her in his vehicle and driving her somewhere.
“It was there that at least four Baylor football players brutally gang raped plaintiff. Plaintiff 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 lawsuit states. “Following the gang rape, plaintiff remembers hearing the players yell ‘Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!’”
When Doe woke up the next morning at her friend’s apartment, she was confused, hurt and embarrassed, and started crying after she realized that she had been raped.
She noticed her phone had numerous missed calls and text messages from one of her friends who lived in the Outpost Apartments. The friend believed he had seen Baylor football players carry her into one of the player’s apartments at the complex. Doe saw that the phone numbers for two of the football players allegedly involved in the gang rape had been deleted from her phone.
After the rape, Doe claims that Baylor football players subjected her to verbal abuse and public humiliation.
“One football player told plaintiff that it was consensual and that she ‘wanted it.’ That same football player also taunted plaintiff with claims that a Baylor football player had taken nude photographs of plaintiff and other Baylor football players during the gang rape,” the complaint states. “The football players also perpetuated rumors about plaintiff throughout the Baylor campus about ‘riding train’ on plaintiff, a reference to the night they took turns raping her as she laid there barely conscious.”
Doe’s mother allegedly informed an assistant football coach about her sexual assault by the players, but she never heard from that coach again.
According to the complaint, Baylor regents later acknowledged that the assistant coach spoke to two of the players involved in the gang rape, who likened the rape to “fooling around” and “a little bit of playtime.”
The assistant coach concluded there was no definitive evidence of sexual assault against Doe, the lawsuit states. Football players allegedly retaliated against Doe by harassing her verbally and with text messages using fake phone numbers.
Doe also had to attend classes with two of her alleged rapists, which she says created a highly hostile educational environment for her.
Then, in April 2013, Baylor football players burglarized Doe’s apartment, she claims. She reported the burglary to the Waco Police Department, but no charges were pressed against them.
The players, including one who burglarized her apartment, allegedly continued their harassment of Doe.
“The football players later tried to justify the burglary by spreading false rumors that plaintiff had stolen their dog,” the lawsuit states. “Earlier that year, plaintiff had taken the player’s dog to the vet and paid for urgent medical treatment after the dog was injured in a dog fight orchestrated by Baylor football players.”
Doe says her head volleyball coach told Briles about the sexual assault and gave him a list of the players who were involved.
According to the lawsuit, “Briles reportedly looked at the list of players’ names and said, ‘those are some bad dudes…why was she around those guys?’”
Baylor’s former athletic director, Ian McCaw, allegedly told Doe’s head coach that it was up to Doe to take action and that if she didn’t press charges, there was nothing else Baylor could do.
“[N]either plaintiff nor her parents ever indicated that they did not want to report the assault to judicial affairs or the police. Instead, plaintiff and her parents were told that it was too late for criminal charges,” the complaint says.
McCaw – who is not a defendant in Doe’s lawsuit – allegedly denied having prior knowledge of Doe’s sexual assault, despite being told about it in April 2013. He also asked the school’s Title IX coordinator if a football player who had information about the gang rapes could receive immunity, according to the lawsuit.
“Subsequently, in August 2015, McCaw admitted that he had in fact known about plaintiff’s sexual assault in 2013, but that he did not report it to judicial affairs, citing a lack of Title IX training as an excuse,” the lawsuit states.
Baylor admitted for the first time in November 2016 that no school officials reported Doe’s sexual assault to judicial affairs or anyone outside of the athletics department, she claims.
Doe says Baylor concealed her options for reporting the sexual assault and other investigative actions it could have taken. She was “manipulated into not pursuing her rights,” the lawsuit states.
A Baylor spokeswoman said in a statement, “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.”
The statement continues: “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…Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”
Doe seeks damages for claims of gender discrimination, harassment and fraudulent concealment, as well as an injunction ordering Baylor to rectify its Title IX violations.
She is represented by Muhammad Aziz of Abraham Watkins in Houston.
There have been numerous sexual-assault lawsuits filed against Baylor in recent years, and it was announced in March that the Texas Rangers will investigate the school’s persistent rape scandal.