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Student Says College|Covered for Rapist Coach

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) - After a Faulkner University soccer coach raped a student, the Christian college covered for him and expelled his victim, the woman claims in court.

The woman, L, sued Faulkner University, women's soccer coach Jeff Ireland, university President Billy Hilyer and five other university officials, in Federal Court.

Montgomery-based Faulkner says on its Internet home page: "The mission of Faulkner University is to glorify God through education of the whole person, emphasizing integrity of character in a caring, Christian environment where every individual matters every day."

In her complaint, L, a native of Jamaica, claims that while she was a student and soccer player at Faulkner, Ireland began an inappropriate relationship with her.

She claims Ireland greeted her "with a hand shake" when she arrived at the Atlanta airport in 2010, and began calling her dorm room shortly after she arrived on campus, asking her to meet him for long conversations in the parking lot, at different times of the day and night.

She says Ireland bought her a cell phone, gave her money, repeatedly told her she was beautiful and forced a kiss on her, making her "afraid and confused."

"Plaintiff avers that one afternoon as she was coming from the café she saw a group of her teammates laughing and talking, [and] when she got where they were she heard them talking about some dirty underwear they spotted in Coach Ireland's car and about the secret relationship he is having with ... a player," the complaint states. [That player, named in the complaint, is not the plaintiff.]

"The plaintiff avers that she became very suspect [sic] about Coach Ireland. Shortly thereafter, he called and asked to pick her up and when she got into the car he had a bottle of Ciroc with ice and cups saying it's for her and he wanted them to drink together. She refused to drink with him and told him she will take it to her room because she was writing a paper before she came to see him and she needed to return and complete it. While sitting in the car for about 30-45 minutes talking, Coach Ireland told her how folks are at Faulkner University, that they have not visited other states or other countries, they do not understand how to interact with others from different countries, unlike he who has been to Jamaica and other countries across the world. In the context of this conversation, plaintiff avers that Coach Ireland propositioned her for sexual intercourse. Plaintiff avers that she rebuffed his sexual advancement and told him it was time for her to go. After she closed the car door he put the liquor outside the window and handed it to the plaintiff. Plaintiff avers that it is against Faulkner University policies, rules and regulations to have alcohol on campus."

L says she tried to avoid Ireland, but he controlled her fate at the university.

She says she did not succumb to his advances, but he continued to pursue her and eventually raped her.


"Plaintiff avers that in the fall semester of 2010, after the Thanksgiving holiday, she received a call from Coach Jeff Ireland saying she should meet him outside her apartment parking lot and it was very important that she heard what he had to say," the complaint states. "When she got outside, he told her to get into the car. After getting in, he said they were going to the multiplex parking lot. She asked him why they couldn't stay where they were and he mentioned that he was not comfortable there. Plaintiff avers that when they got to the multiplex parking lot he said she should go over to the back seat. When she got in the back seat she asked him what he wanted to talk to her about. He tried to kiss her and she pulled her head away and tried to leave. He pulled her back, and as a struggle ensued between the two, she hurt her back and the back of her head on the car door. She became very dizzy, disoriented and helpless, started crying and shaking because she was so afraid and nervous. Plaintiff avers that Coach Ireland forced her legs apart and pushed her shorts aside and began to rape her. Plaintiff avers that she was screaming, telling him that he was hurting her. He didn't seem to care but had the look on his face like he was having a great time. After he was finished he wanted to take her back to her room. Plaintiff avers that she remembered lying on the seat holding her lower stomach cramping and trembling then she got out of the car walking back to her room in pain and tears. Plaintiff avers that she fell on her way back, sat there for a while. When she got to the bathroom she noticed there was blood dripping down her legs. She filled the bath tub up with water and sat in it. Plaintiff avers that defendant Coach Ireland raped her and sexually assaulted her by forcible compulsion."

After this, L says, she had suicidal thoughts, and tried to avoid Ireland, who continued to call her. She says that when she had to face the student welfare committee to explain a forged signature, Ireland told her to leave school without talking to the committee. She claims Ireland saw the situation as "an opportunity to get rid of her."

When she missed her period in early 2011 and thought she was pregnant, L says, she finally had the courage to tell her counselor she had been raped. She says school officials promised to investigate, but failed to take action.

She says that after she filed a police report about the rape in March 2011, Ireland cornered and assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she didn't retract her accusations.

"On her way back to her room in the tennis parking lot she was kicking an empty soda can with her head downward, [when] out of nowhere a hand grabbed her and pulled her against a white Faulkner van," the complaint states. "When she saw and realized who it was, in shock she urinated on herself very nervously. Plaintiff avers that she didn't know what to do. She was crying as Coach Ireland hit her on her forehead with his head (head butt her) and she could see the black handle of a gun in his waist. She was accosted, assaulted and battered, this being the second time she was victimized by Coach Jeff Ireland as he threatened her to tell the police that she is lying on him. He said that if she didn't he would kill her. Plaintiff avers that she told him okay and that he got into the white Faulkner van and drove away."

(Parentheses, but not brackets, in complaint).

At that point, L says, she "felt compelled to arm herself with a steak knife, afraid that this man would kill her."

She claims Faulkner officials failed to protect her or investigate her complaints.

"Defendants negligently and wantonly acted to protect the institution of Faulkner University's image from being tarnished like that of Penn State University in the public disclosure of the sexual deviant conduct of Jerry Sandusky, by launching an attack on the plaintiff's veracity, accusing her of 'making a false report that you had been accosted by a Faulkner staff member,' (that member being Women's Soccer Coach defendant Jeff Ireland), 'you have been a disruption on campus' and expelling her from the Faulkner University student body. Plaintiff avers that she is a black woman and Coach Jeff Ireland a white male. She avers that the Faulkner University and university officials engaged in a cover up scheme and took no affirmative action to protect her because of racial and gender discrimination. Plaintiff avers that had she been a white female rape victim, defendants' course of action would have been different in their response and investigation so as to effectively protect her from a sexual predator."

L seeks punitive damages for negligence, wantonness, false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and discrimination.

She is represented by Amardo Wesley Pitters.

The Associated Press reported in April that plaintiff L was charged with first-degree attempted kidnapping after she tried to see the Faulkner University president and another school employee, while armed with a knife.

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