on campuses that is far more important than basketball...Sweeping sex assault suit filed against University of Tennessee
Six women filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming the University of Tennessee has created a student culture that enables sexual assaults by student-athletes, especially football players, and then uses an unusual, legalistic adjudication process that is biased against victims who step forward.
The lawsuit, filed by plaintiffs identified only as “Jane Does,” accuses five Tennessee athletes of sexual assault. They are former basketball player Yemi Makanjuola, former football players A.J. Johnson, Michael Williams and Riyahd Jones and a current football player named as a “John Doe.”
Peyton Manning has likely played his final NFL game. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll try to run it back, but most agree he should send his starting defense some very nice thank-you gifts and call it a career on a high note.
If he’s on the fence, he might be getting a gentle push toward retirement from a handful of scandals that seem to be coming to a head all at once: first, the NFL’s investigation into allegations of HGH use; second, a renewed interest in a 1997 alleged sexual-assault settlement while he was at the University of Tennessee; and third, his inclusion in a recently filed lawsuit alleging that UT has violated Title IX regulations and created a “hostile sexual environment.”
Peyton Manning. For the past two weeks, his name has been in the headlines — first for winning his second Super Bowl, then, over the weekend, as the subject of a New York Daily News story that details one account of the alleged sexual assault that happened in 1996, when Manning was the star quarterback at the University of Tennessee.
The “incident” has been covered in the media many times over the past 20 years. So, old news, right?
And about that weird “everything’s fine!” Tennessee press conference? Ridiculous Quotes From Tennessee’s Coaches Press Conference
But this is not an isolated case.
When six former female students filed a sweeping lawsuit against the University of Tennessee last week, they joined a growing list of high profile legal actions against colleges over how sexual assault allegations are handled, particularly those involving male athletes.
Last month, Florida State University settled a lawsuit for $950,000 brought by a former student who said she was raped by star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in 2012, but was met with “deliberate indifference” by university officials after she came forward. Winston has denied the allegations.
In January, Baylor University entered into a confidential settlement with a female soccer player after she reported being sexually assaulted by former football defensive end Sam Ukwuachu. A jury found Ukwuachu guilty of the sexual assault in August 2015, months after a campus disciplinary review had cleared Ukwuachu.
The best place to learn about what’s going on? The Title IX Blog.
A federal district court in Rhode Island denied Brown University’s motion to dismiss a Title IX “erroneous outcome” claim filed by a male student who was found responsible for sexual assault of a female classmate and suspended for two and a half years. (The court also permitted the student to continue to litigate some of his breach of contact claim, but did dismiss his Title IX “deliberate indifference” claim.)We have seen emerge a pattern of sexual assault cover-ups by intercollegiate football teams recently. Kent State has interrupted that pattern–not in a good way.As I wrote last week, the University of Tennessee and Baylor University find themselves in similar situations: student athletes accused of sexual assault and subsequent indifference to these reports by administrators. More has come out about Tennessee, specifically Peyton Manning’s involvement when he was a student athlete. I am moving on to discuss the cases at Baylor though for now and may return to Manning later.
As I noted in my original post, the two situations share characteristics but are different in key ways. First, the judicial system has already handled the cases of two of the accused. Two former Baylor student-athletes were convicted of sexual assault, but the school did nothing about either of them. They did not investigate when victims came forward.
Here are summaries of some recent judicial decisions involving Title IX claims against school districts for failing to adequately respond to reports of sexual harassment and abuse.
A federal court in Connecticut refused to grant summary judgment to a school district in a case stemming from a ninth-grader’s repeated sexual abuse of the sixth-grade plaintiff. The abuse itself occurred outside of school, but the plaintiff alleges that the school district was deliberately indifferent to the fact that the abuse and her reporting of it subjected her to continued harm while at school.