PHOENIX (CN) — A former student sued the University of Arizona on Wednesday, saying she was strangled and beaten by a running back on its football team after the school ignored other domestic violence allegations against the player.
The woman filed a Title IX suit in Maricopa County Court against Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents dba the University of Arizona.
Plaintiff M says she was “repeatedly restrained, brutalized, and humiliated” by Orlando Bradford for two days, on Sept. 12 and 13, 2016. Bradford was a starting running back for the UA Wildcats at the time. He is not a defendant in the case.
During those two days, she says, she was “strangled, beaten, dragged by her hair, and told to ‘say bye to your mom, bitch’ because she would never see her again.”
Tucson police documented her injuries on Sept. 14, and Bradford was arrested on multiple felony counts, including domestic violence kidnapping and aggravated assault.
Shortly after his arrest, the school said Bradford had been dismissed from the football team, but did not disclose that he “had been previously removed from the dorms and placed in private housing due to prior allegations of domestic violence,” according to the complaint.
The mother of a student-athlete involved in a romantic relationship with Bradford told the university in 2015 that he had strangled her daughter on more than one occasion, the complaint states.
In response, the school allegedly told Victim A to avoid Bradford and told Bradford that Victim A’s mother had contacted the school.
“Defendants took no steps to protect Victim A or any other female student from Bradford at that time,” the lawsuit states.
Victim A filed a report with the UA campus police department in April 2016, claiming “Bradford had physically attacked her on multiple occasions and was harassing her at the dorm where they both resided.”
The university then banned Bradford from living in the dorms and arranged for him to live in a house near campus with other members of the football team, the complaint states. It adds: “Defendants dismissed the campus police report relating to Victim A, and informed Bradford by email that no further action would be taken.”
Bradford also assaulted Victim B after becoming involved with her, according to the complaint, by “physically assaulting her as well, including by strangling her, throwing her to the ground, kicking her in the ribs, and dragging her by the hair.”
M says that several of his attacks on Victim B were witnessed by members of the football team, and were talked about “in team common areas, including locker rooms, and were not kept secret from athletic department staff/coaches.”
M claims that after Bradford assaulted her, he joked with teammates in the locker room about what he had done to her, and told a witness that he had “tortured” her.
M says that while UA athletic department claims to have a zero tolerance policy for acts of domestic violence on or off campus, “the actual de facto policy … was to try to minimize reporting of acts of domestic violence, to minimize adverse consequences of such acts, and to prevent such acts from becoming public knowledge, at least for valuable players.”
M says she missed work and school after the attacks, suffered anxiety and was afraid to be alone in her apartment or near areas of campus frequented by football players.
“Defendants knew that their acts and omissions … were likely to result in attacks upon additional female students, but consciously disregarded that fact in order to retain a star player on the U of A football team, which would bring financial and reputational benefits to the U of A,” M says in the lawsuit.
She is represented by Isabel Humphrey with Hunter, Humphrey & Yavitz. She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations under Title IX, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
A spokeswoman for the Arizona Board of Regents was not immediately available to comment.
Bradford’s jury trial is set to begin Oct. 17 in Pima County Superior Court.