Here’s the thing about sexual assaults and Title IX violations, they are incredibly difficult to prove. Nobody likes it, but the harsh reality is that the majority of the time it comes down to he said/she said. That puts schools in an awkward position. If the school doesn’t react fast enough, they could potentially be putting more students at risk, not to mention public perception. React too fast though, and they could be punishing an innocent person, and then that person could take legal action against the school. (See Duke lacrosse)
In the wake of the numerous Title IX violations that have rocked Baylor, schools across the country have been taking a more hard-line approach to sexual assault allegations, and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is reporting that a Texas Tech football player is crying foul in a pending lawsuit.
From the article:
The lawsuit identifies the African-American, freshman football player under the pseudonym of “John Doe.” He is suing Tech and university President Lawrence Schovanec, claiming his rights to due process were violated, and he is alleging there were “procedural and substantive errors that significantly impacted the outcome” of a Title IX hearing in which he was found responsible for sexual assault.
“Doe” reportedly filed an appeal initially, but when the appeal was denied he sought legal action.
“This is the first time we’ve been sued on one where they weren’t happy with the resolution and they’ve actually taken that step, so it’s really new for us,” Ronny H. Wall, associate general counsel for the Texas Tech University System, said earlier. “That’s probably going to make us even more guarded (than) normal because we don’t really know what we’re in for.”
The player alleges that Texas Tech disregarded witness statements in his favor and claims that the method of which the university determined whether or not the female was incapacitated was unreliable. He also claims there was bias since he’s an African-American male and the complainant was a white female.
Now, you may be wondering how in the world does a Title IX hearing panel determine how incapacitated someone was after the fact. Apparently, Texas Tech asked witnesses to grade the accuser’s intoxication level from 1 to 11. To which, according to the pending lawsuit, the answers varied widely. The accused player reportedly rated the complainant a one, while witness responses ranged anywhere from three to eight.
The lawsuit, which must be filed by March 3rd, claims that only one witness said the alleged victim was very intoxicated, while other witnesses said that while she was intoxicated, she was not stumbling drunk or slurring her words, could still organize her thoughts, and didn’t appear overly intoxicated. The suit also claims that text messages sent by the alleged victim the next morning are not consistent with someone who had been sexually assaulted.
It’s important to remember that the suit has yet to be filed, and may never be filed if the school and the player come to an agreement before the deadline. Whatever happens though, you can bet schools across the country are paying attention.