Lyons, former Baylor Title IX officer, files complaint against university

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

Former Baylor Title IX investigator Gabrielle Lyons has filed a report alleging that she was not given the proper resources to fulfill her duties as a Title IX investigator and that she felt intimidated when attempting to conduct interviews related to her investigations.

Lyons resigned from her position in October 2015, eight months after Patty Crawford, former Title IX coordinator, was appointed. Lyons’ resignation was due to the lack of support for the Title IX office and lack of access to potential witnesses, especially in the athletics department, said Rogge Dunn, Lyons’ attorney.

Lyons went to a third-party organization with her complaint, Dunn said. The organization anonymously filed her complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in April 2016, six months after her resignation. Lyons’ recent resignation, need for employment and the emotional distress that she experienced as a result of her position were factors in this delay, Dunn said.

Lyons’ allegations echo what Patty Crawford cited as her reason for resigning as Title IX coordinator. Dunn said the allegations also show that Baylor is wrongly faulting Crawford for the resignation of three Title IX investigators.

“She was so afraid of retaliation by Baylor that she filed her complaint in April of 2016,” Dunn said.

The statute of limitations allowed Lyons 180 days to file her complaint, Dunn said. Prior to her resignation, Lyons never approached Baylor officials regarding these issues.

“While Ms. Lyons claims a lack of support for the Title IX office, resources were made available as requested by the Title IX coordinator,” Baylor said in a statement responding to Lyons’ claims of a lack of resources and lack of access to potential witnesses.

Lyons has also alleged that she was intimidated by campus law enforcement when conducting interviews for her investigations

“[The Baylor police] made comments to her like ‘well maybe you shouldn’t interview this person. They are violent,’ or, ‘You shouldn’t interview them alone,’” Dunn said.

Dunn said Lyons believed these comments were meant to obstruct her investigation rather than to ensure her personal safety because the Baylor Police Department had knowledge that these individuals were dangerous and had not taken action. Dunn said the Baylor Police Department should have offered to interview these individuals with Lyons or provide other assistance.

“Ms. Lyons claims that Baylor University law enforcement officials tried to intimidate her by discouraging her from interviewing alleged perpetrators alone. In fact, these officials partner daily with Title IX staff to provide information and support,” Baylor said in a statement. “Based on feedback they had received from the Title IX office, the officials offered to accompany Ms. Lyons any time she felt a situation might escalate and become difficult for her. They offered the same support to other Title IX staff members … Far from intending to intimidate Ms. Lyons, the law enforcement officials were trying to do everything they could to help her be successful in her work.”

Lyons filed her complaint one month before the Baylor Board of Regents released the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation in May 2016, according to Baylor’s website. Lyons had no knowledge of Pepper Hamilton’s findings or of any changes that would be made to the Title IX office, Dunn said.