By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer
Baylor filed a response on Friday evening to one of six Title IX lawsuits the university faces, denying all allegations against Baylor in the suit and saying that the claims failed to prove injury traceable to the university’s actions.
Eleven plaintiffs named in the suit as Jane Doe 1-11 allege sexual assaults at Baylor in cases between 2004-2016.
“Baylor exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassing or discriminatory conduct, and one or more of the plaintiffs unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by Baylor or to avoid harm otherwise,” the document states.
Baylor denied the claims that each event alleged in the original complaint was “reported to an appropriate official with authority to take corrective action. Defendant further denies that it was deliberately indifferent in violation of Title IX.”
In the filing, Baylor calls several of the plaintiffs’ claims vague and “utterly lacking in any factual detail.”
The original lawsuit claims that Baylor “failed to adequately investigate each and every one of the events the plaintiffs reported in violation of Title IX,” which Baylor quoted in this filing to say the claim is vague and that the “Defendant is not required to respond to plaintiffs’ opinions, beliefs and conclusions.”
Jim Dunnam, an attorney for the plaintiffs, called Baylor’s filing ingenuous and said that calling their allegations vague is ridiculous.
“Baylor has done its own eight-month study. They know our allegations are true,” Dunnam said. “They have a Pepper Hamilton report in which they acknowledge their own misconduct. They know they’ve messed up, but they don’t want to do anything about it.”
Dunnam said he thinks it is ironic for Baylor to say it wants transparency and to file this document at the same time.
Pepper Hamilton, an independent Philadelphia law firm, conducted a nine-month investigation into Baylor’s previous handling of sexual assault cases and found that Baylor failed to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).
Pepper Hamilton provided Baylor with 105 recommendations to improve its handling of sexual assault cases, 76 of which have been fully integrated into university operations, a university spokesperson told the Lariat in January.
“As legal proceedings continue, Baylor University maintains its right to present facts – as available to the institution – in response to the many allegations contained in these cases,” the university said in a statement to the Lariat. “This legal response in no way changes Baylor’s position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. The university remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”
The university recently announced Dr. Linda Livingstone will take over as president on June 1. Former President Ken Starr was fired in reaction to Baylor’s sexual assault scandal, the Lariat reported in May.