Lawsuit filed against JSU, Board of Trustees for handling of sexual assault case

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A lawsuit has been filed against Jacksonville State University and Jacksonville State Board of Trustees for it’s handling of a 2017 sexual assault case. The complaint was filed by a woman accusing a JSU basketball player of rape. She was 17 years old at the time of the incident.

In the summer of 2017, the plaintiff had graduated high school and was enrolled in the “Fast Start Academy” at JSU. She was enrolled in summer classes at the university and lived in a co-ed on-campus dormitory. The complaint states the varsity men’s basketball team was also housed in the same dormitory, Logan Hall. Fast Start Academy is a six-week program to help high schoolers transition into college.

Because the student-athlete has not been charged with a crime, his name is omitted from this story. To protect the victim’s privacy, her name will also remain confidential. The complaint states the following:

“During the late night of July 21, 2017, the Plaintiff and several other female friends were in the dorm at JSU. Despite school regulations and the fact that the Plaintiff and most of the dorm were under the age of 21, several parties were being held within the dorms. Plaintiff and her friends attended a party when police were called. Plaintiff and her friends, all underage, went to a second party in the dorm. Alcoholic beverages were provided or allowed at these parties despite their location in the dorms. JSU and/or its dormitory personnel were aware, condoned, ignored and allowed the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the dormitory and on campus property. Throughout the evening, despite several parties lasting hours, police being called to break one up and alcoholic beverages being openly consumed by underage children, not one representative of JSU appropriately supervised the children trusted to JSU’s care. Plaintiff and her friends eventually ended up in the parking lot outside of the dorms in the early morning of July 22, 2017. At the time, Plaintiff first encountered a JSU student athlete. The student-athlete approached the Plaintiff, in a state of obvious intoxication and verbally assaulted the Plaintiff, stating “you better stop playing, before you get this d**k.”Plaintiff and her friends then went back inside the dormitory building. Plaintiff needed to use the restroom and while walking down the hallway toward the restroom, she encountered the same student-athlete for a second time. The student-athlete attempted to kiss Plaintiff on the neck and she pushed him away from her and told him to leave her alone. The student-athlete asked Plaintiff to go to his room and she declined. At that time, the student-athlete, a 6’3″ 200-pound basketball player, picked up the Plaintiff, threw her over his shoulder and carried her into his dormitory room without her consent as she protested. Plaintiff made as much noise as she could to wake up other residents and alert them to what was occurring. Once the student-athlete brought the protesting Plaintiff to his room, he proceeded to sexually assault her, despite the protests and refusals of the Plaintiff.”

The complaint alleges JSU failed to have proper supervision of the children placed into their care with the reasonable expectation that they will not be placed in situations in which their health and well-being were ignored.

The JSU basketball player previously was enrolled at Western Kentucky University. In March of 2016, he and two other basketball players were suspended from the WKU basketball team. The JSU basketball player was expelled from WKU following an incident involving sexual misconduct. At the time of the three WKU basketball players’ suspension, their basketball coach resigned. That coach was hired by JSU in April of 2016. The lawsuit alleges the basketball coach facilitated in the transfer or enrollment of the student-athlete that is now accused of rape.

The complaint states JSU and the Jacksonville State Board of Trustees knew or should have known the reasons and circumstances for the suspension of the accused student-athlete and the resignation of the WKU basketball coach.

The complaint alleges the university did not properly investigate the sexual assault of a minor in an on-campus dormitory. It states, through the efforts of officers, JSU’s Title IX coordinator, and university administrators conspired with others, including but not limited to members of the JSU athletic department and supporters, to thwart the investigation, cause a grand jury to convene and ultimately reverse the earlier grand jury indictment and the basketball player.

In the lawsuit, it states two JSU police department officers complained that University administrators interfered with the investigation of the student-athlete and were subsequently placed on administrative leave.

The complaint alleges JSU and the board of trustees violated Title IX, demonstrated negligent failure to supervise, demonstrated negligent failure to train university employees, and demonstrated negligent hiring practices through the hiring of the resident assistant that worked during the Fast Start Program.

CBS 42 reached out to JSU for comment on this lawsuit. The university’s legal team sent the following statement:

“While JSU is aware of the filing of a lawsuit, the institution has not been served with a copy of the plaintiff’s complaint. The matter which is made the basis of the plaintiff’s complaint was fully investigated both pursuant to Title IX federal requirements and state criminal law. As with other situations, the District Attorney’s Office was fully involved. The case was presented to a Calhoun County Grand Jury in early 2018 and the jury returned a “No Bill” (no indictment). The university does not discuss legal claims or cases made by or against it. No further statement will be forthcoming at this time.”


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