Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Woman Says Baylor Blew Off Assault Reports

WACO, Texas (CN) — Sexual harassment lawsuits against Baylor University continue to mount, as a former student claims the school was deliberately indifferent to her reports of assaults by her ex-boyfriend, a running back for the Baylor football team.

Dolores Lozano sued Baylor University and its Board of Regents in Federal Court on Oct. 11.

At least five other Baylor students or former students have filed similar claims this year. Baylor fired its head football coach Art Briles in May and demoted its Chancellor Ken Starr. Starr resigned in June and left the law school as well in August. Briles has sued the school over his firing, but allegations that the school gave athletes preferential treatment continue.

Lozano, a student at Baylor between 2010 and 2014, says she began a romantic relationship with non-party Devin Chafin in 2012. Chafin at the time was a running back for the Baylor Bears football team.

Lozano says in the lawsuit that she "became concerned for the emotional and mental well-being of her then romantic partner." She says the first time Chafin assaulted her was in March of 2014 at his apartment.

"Assailant began to raise his voice and threaten plaintiff. He then slapped, kicked, and slammed plaintiff against the wall until she fell to the ground. Assailant strangled plaintiff until she began to lose consciousness," the complaint states.

Lozano says she told Baylor running back coach Jeff Lebby about the assault shortly after it happened, while her bruises and abrasions were still visible. She says Lebby told her he would speak to Chafin, but he took no further action and no report was filed.

Lozano said the stress forced her to ask for absences from her position as manager of Baylor's acrobatics and tumbling team, and that she told her head coach, LaPrise Harris-Williams, about the first assault. Williams reported the assault to her superior, Nancy Post, associate athletics director for women, but Post told Williams that "being involved with incidents like Lozano's were not [Williams'] responsibility," according to the complaint.

The only defendants in Lozano's lawsuit are the university and its board of regents.Lozano says Post disregarded the assault and did not advise Williams to take any corrective action. So, Lozano says, Williams told Baylor Sports Chaplain Wes Yeary about the assault, and he met with Lozano, whose bruises and abrasions were still apparent. Lozano says she told Yeary that Chafin needed help to address his emotional and mental well-being.

After the meeting, Yeary "supplied plaintiff with literature to assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation," according to the complaint.

Three weeks after Lozano met with Yeary, she says, Chafin assaulted her again, on April 5, 2014, in the parking lot of a restaurant and bar frequented by Baylor students.

"Visibly upset and angered about a very personal choice plaintiff made about her own health and well-being, assailant slammed plaintiff's arm against a vehicle in the presence of several of plaintiff's friends," the complaint states.

Lozano says she went to Baylor's on-campus clinic for the arm injury and disclosed how she was injured and who caused her injury, but the clinic staff also turned a blind eye.

"The clinic staff referred plaintiff to the on-campus counseling center, again to 'assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation,' as if she was the cause of her own abuse. No further action was taken by anyone at the on-campus clinic, no report was filed with the University, and the incident was disregarded as just another complaint," according to the complaint.

Lozano says the lack of support from Baylor officials caused her to fall into a state of hopelessness and despair that affected her studies. She sought help from the Waco Police Department and filed an incident report naming Chafin as the assailant and police took photos of her injuries, she says. But no investigator ever followed up with her and her subsequent calls to police went unreturned.

Later in April 2014, Chafin assaulted her a third time, she says. This time, after an argument in Chafin's apartment, he grabbed her and slammed her to the ground. She turned again to Williams, who told her to call the police, and told Yeary and Post, again, of the assaults, but to no avail, Lozano says.

"Although Williams vehemently requested that Post do something to help plaintiff, no further action was taken, and subsequently Williams was forced to resign one year later after voicing her discontent with the administrators," the complaint states.

Lozano says Baylor never advised her of the Title IX process to address her situation. In fact, she did not know Baylor was required to have a Title IX process until May this year, when an internal audit of the Pepper Hamilton investigation of Baylor's process of handling sexual assault allegations was released.

Lozano says she continues to suffer severe mental and emotional injuries because of Baylor's lack of a Title IX process and its officials' unwillingness to support and assist her.

Baylor media relations did not respond to an email request for comment.

Chafin told former ESPN reporter Joe Schad in June this year that he "grabbed" Lozano "because she was fighting me" but said he "never threw her to the ground, kicked her or choked her."

Chafin was kicked off the Baylor football team in June this year for marijuana possession, according to Sports Illustrated. He told Schad he thinks he was dismissed because of the assault allegations, not for marijuana.

"I feel I have not done anything wrong," Chafin said. "My hopes of the NFL are hurt severely right now but hopefully not gone."

Lozano seeks punitive damages for violations of Title IX and gross negligence.

She is represented Joey McCall and Ricky Patel with Farrell & Patel in Coral Gables, Fla.

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