WACO - A federal judge has dismissed certain negligence claims against Baylor, while simultaneously ordering a lawsuit from 10 alleged sexual assault victims to move forward.
The 10 alleged victims in the case claim Baylor employees failed to assist them when they reported sexual assaults and discouraged them from getting help. In a Tuesday order, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman ruled those accusations, dubbed “post-reporting claims,” were not within the statute of limitations for four of the 10 victims. But, post-reporting claims from six other victims are within the statute of limitations, and thus, can be heard in court.
More broadly, the 10 alleged victims claim Baylor’s handling of sexual assault reports created a heightened risk of sexual assault for all students. The statute of limitations ruling does not apply to that part of the court’s decision. So, all 10 claims the University created a “heightened risk” of sexual assault will move forward. And, any victims wishing to file their own lawsuits regarding the “heightened risk” have until spring 2018 to do so.
Despite those victories for the plaintiffs, the judge ruled Baylor did not have a responsibility to protect adult students from crimes by other students while off-campus. Judge Pitman also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims the University was negligent by failing to hire, properly train and supervise employees handing sexual assaults.
In short, while dishing partial victories to both sides, the court ordered the case to move forward and has opened the discovery process, which could yield more insight into what happened at Baylor.
Each of the ten female plaintiffs were students at Baylor when they claim they were sexually assaulted by other students. And, the alleged victims, nine of whom lived in campus housing, say the University did nothing or nearly nothing when they reported the assaults, which allegedly happened between 2004 and 2016. Their lawyers claim Baylor discouraged them from reporting assaults, failed to properly investigate them and failed to ensure they wouldn’t be assaulted or harassed again.
In multiple cases, the alleged victims claim doctors employed by the University misinformed them or concealed information from them about reporting assaults to Baylor leadership. One alleged victim said Baylor police refused to take a rape report, even after she claims a University physician confirmed she had been raped. She claims a later attempt to alert Baylor administration received no response. Another alleged victim says University police discouraged her from pursuing her claims.
The plaintiffs’ Attorney Jim Dunnam said he was pleased with the outcome, which allows his case to continue.
“I think it’s very positive for our clients and for all the Baylor victims,” Dunnam said. “Any young woman impacted by Baylor’s action by creating heightened risk will have until next spring to bring their case forward.”
Baylor released a statement late Tuesday afternoon:
"Baylor University is encouraged by today’s ruling. The Court’s decision was based entirely on the plaintiffs’ pleadings and assumed that every claim they presented was accurate. The Court summarily rejected every claim under state law as well as dismissed some of the Title IX allegations related to four of the plaintiffs.
Baylor intends to continue to defend itself against those allegations that have not yet been dismissed. We will now have the opportunity to conduct discovery and ultimately present evidence on those remaining counts.
As we have stressed throughout, our hearts go out to all victims of sexual assault at Baylor. We deeply regret the pain they experienced and continue to pray for their healing."
Read the complete court order below:
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