Former Missouri college student sues school for 'threatening her with expulsion' if she spoke about her rape
The teen alleged in the lawsuit that the school was aware of her rapist's other sexual offenses but had remained 'deliberately indifferent' to it.
A former William Jewel College student in Missouri has sued the school over failing to take the necessary steps which could have prevented her alleged rape and its handling of her sexual assault claim from October 2017. The woman, who has been identified as 'AP' from court documents, said the school threatened her with expulsion if she talked to anyone besides a mental health professional about her alleged rape at the hands of a football player.
The Daily Mail further reported that the accused football player had previously been disciplined for sexual offenses in high school, and the victim also claimed that the school was "deliberately indifferent" to the knowledge of the player's previous sexual offenses. The football player, identified as 'ZP' in the lawsuit was found by the school to have raped AP while she was sleeping in her dorm room and was expelled on November 14, 2017, according to the complaint filed in federal court on May 3.
In the lawsuit, AP alleges the school was aware that ZP had filmed two other students having sex and had even posted it on social media, but school authorities did not adequately punish that behavior. She further stated how she believed that if he was given proper punishment for his actions, it could have prevented his assault of her.
"ZP, as a result of the sexual harassment recording incident, was not removed from campus and was not limited in his access to campus facilities. He remained on campus and in Plaintiff’s dormitory where he would sexually assault and rape Plaintiff approximately three weeks later," the lawsuit states. "WJC had actual knowledge of and was deliberately indifferent to known sexual harassment and sexual violence by ZP against female students at WJC, including a known and substantial risk that he would sexually harass and/or assault other female students."
The formal complaint also stated that the school violated its own policy of ensuring dormitory checks between 12 am and 1 am and had it done so, ZP would have not been there. It was also noted that ZP "committed an act of a sexual nature on his high school campus in Texas" which got him banned from the campus and required him to complete his senior year of high school at an alternative school, but the college failed to take action since it did not do a thorough background check on him.
AP alleged in the lawsuit that ZP, under the pretext of watching a movie with her and her roommate, got inside AP's dorm room, but later in the night, while the victim was sleeping, he forced himself upon her even after AP's cries of asking him to stop. As per reports, AP woke up around 8 am with ZP and her clothes gone and noted that one of her shirts had even been used by ZP to wipe his semen off of him and her.
The next day, the lawsuit said AP submitted to a sexual assault forensic examination, commonly known as a "rape kit", at an area hospital and soon after reported the alleged rape to the Liberty, Missouri Police Department as well as William Jewel College's anti-harassment coordinator, Andrew Pratt, and the school's provost, Anne Dema.
The lawsuit also claims that apart from the inadequate support and continuing trauma being the reason for her to leave school, another was the harassment she received. Men banged on the door of her dorm room that night, the lawsuit said, and screamed “We are going to do you like (the assailant) did you!”, reports Kansas City. It was too much for her to endure, the suit states.
At the school she was then informed "she was not allowed to speak to anyone about the rape or WJC’s investigation and handling of the rape, as it would be considered retaliation, and grounds for dismissal from WJC if she spoke to anyone other than a therapist or medical professional about the rape," according to the lawsuit.
In addition to the expulsion, ZP was also fined $2,000, which was supposed to be earmarked for mental health treatment for AP, subject to the approval of Pratt. The lawsuit alleges "WJC’s repeated attempts to discourage [AP] from seeking competent mental health treatment, from seeking counsel, and interacting with her in such a way that her word was not valuable enough for the administration to meaningfully protect her from the retaliation she endured after reporting the rape, became so overwhelming to [AP] that she was unable to continue to education at WJC."
The teen is seeking at least $75,000 in damages on each of seven counts in the lawsuit for a total of at least $525,000, payment of her attorney's fees and an order for the school to revamp its policies on the handling of sexual assault claims on its campus. WJC officials said in a statement, in response to the lawsuit: "While Federal privacy laws limit our ability to comment on the specifics of this case, at William Jewell College the safety and security of our students is our top priority."
The statement continued, "We have a zero-tolerance policy related to sexual misconduct and have a comprehensive Title IX program in place that guides our response to any incident or allegation."