Collegian file photo.
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In a lawsuit filed against the school, a former Butler student athlete is alleging that the University’s negligence led to her sexual assault in December 2016.
According to the suit, the school failed to remove the accused assailant from campus after a previous sexual assault of another student athlete was reported.
The woman is seeking damages for “emotional distress, mental anguish, pain and suffering,” in addition to compensatory damages for the costs associated with her transfer to another university and for medical or psychological treatment.
The parents of the woman provided the following statement in an email from her lawyer:
“More than anything else, we do not want another parent ever to get a similarly horrific call from their child because a college or university has failed to provide them a safe environment in our very unfortunate case stemming from Butler’s abject failure to follow their own procedures, and thus timely investigate and remove a known sexual predator from campus.”
The lawsuit, which was filed on Aug. 27 in U.S. District Court of Indianapolis, also includes the local and national chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha and house-owner Alpha-Alpha Zeta Alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha as defendants. The fraternity suspended its Butler chapter in January 2017.
The accused student was expelled from Butler after a Title IX hearing on April 19, 2017.
“Butler University takes its obligations under Title IX very seriously,” the school said in an email statement provided to The Collegian. “Including in this case in which the University thoroughly investigated the allegations and expelled the accused student after completing the investigation and hearing process.”
The woman has since transferred from Butler and is identified in the lawsuit by initials only. She says she was pinned down and raped in the Lambda Chi Alpha house by another student athlete. The woman attended a party hosted by the fraternity, left, then returned around 2 a.m. to help a friend, according to the suit.
When she found her friend, a man came in and asked if she would help find a necklace that belonged to one of the women. After the pair entered his room, the man locked his door and started kissing the woman, the lawsuit claims.
The woman says she told him repeatedly she was “not going to have sex with him,” and said she needed to leave. The man continued to hold her down and raped her, according to the lawsuit. Eventually, he let her go. She put her pants on and went home.
She told a professor the following day. The professor then went to Stacie Colston Patterson, the school’s Title IX Coordinator at the time.
Over a three month period, the woman corresponded with Patterson. During this time, she also learned that the same student athlete had previously raped another student athlete identified as Jane Doe on “multiple occasions.”
Doe had reported the incident to her head coach, who then went to the school’s Title IX office. According to the lawsuit, Butler did not open a Title IX investigation into Doe’s sexual assault.
Doe left the school in October 2016, according to the suit.
The woman filing the lawsuit also previously submitted a civil rights complaint against Butler for failing to provide her with written information about available resources when federal law requires schools to do so. This was first reported by the IndyStar in January. The complaint was dismissed in March by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for insufficient evidence.
According to Butler’s 2016 Annual Security Report, there were 12 reported rape cases, seven more than the previous year.
In its email statement, the school cited prevention, response and awareness programs along with practices and policies in place to “address complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence.”
This story was updated on Aug. 28 to include a statement from the parents.