Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lawsuit; Baylor officials' negligence kept MSSU running back from getting the help he needed

The Title IX lawsuit filed by a Texas woman against the Baylor University and its board of regents details a university hierarchy that discouraged her from taking any action concerning her former boyfriend, current Missouri Southern State University running back Devin Chafin, instead pushing her toward receiving "spiritual guidance" for herself.

Throughout the lawsuit it is made clear that Lozano was not interested in punishing Chafin, but in getting him help.

Dolores Lozano's lawsuit also claims that the only university official who stood up for her lost her job as a result.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, is only the latest in a series of Title IX lawsuits that have rocked Baylor, most of them concerning how university officials failed to do with sexual assaults allegedly committed by football players.

The resulting investigations cost the university's athletic director, Coach Art Briles, and University President Ken Starr, formerly the special prosecutor in the Bill Clinton sex scandals of the 1990s, their jobs.

Chafin has denied assaulting his former girlfriend, though in a televised interview with a Waco station, he acknowledged grabbing her.

The case against Baylor is laid out in the Lozano petition:

(Lozano) began a romantic relationship with Devin Chafin ("Assailant")  Assailant was, during the relevant time period, a student-athlete on Defendants' football team. 

Assailant resided at Baylor owned apartment complex, University Parks, during the relevant time period. Shortly after the relationship between Plaintiff and Assailant began, Plaintiff became concerned for the emotional and mental well-being of her then romantic partner. 

On or about March of 2014, Plaintiff was first assaulted by Assailant ("first assault"). The first assault occurred following a verbal argument between Plaintiff and Assailant at Assailant's apartment at the University Parks. Assailant began to raise his voice and threaten Plaintiff. He then slapped, kicked, and slammed Plaintiff against the wall until she fell to the ground. 

Assailant strangled Plaintiff until she began to lose consciousness. 

As a result of the first assault, Plaintiff suffered physical injuries, including severe bruising and abrasions. The first assault was made aware to Jeff Lebby ("Lebby"), the Baylor Football Running Back Coach shortly after its occurrence. 

At the time of reporting the first assault to Lebby, Plaintiff's bruises and abrasions were visibly and noticeably apparent. Shortly after being made aware of the first assault, Lebby told Plaintiff that he would speak to Assailant about the incident. However to Plaintiff's knowledge, no known further reasonable action was taken by Lebby and no report was filed regarding the incident. 

Shortly after, Plaintiff began to suffer emotional distress as a result of the first assault. In an attempt to recover from her emotional distress, Plaintiff requested absences from her position as Manager of the Acrobatics & Tumbling team by her then-supervisor LaPrise Harris-Williams ("Williams")

Williams was the Head Coach of Acrobatics & Tumbling at Defendant's university. Williams then requested Plaintiff to meet her in Williams' office where she questioned Plaintiff's absences.During the Williams meeting with Plaintiff, Williams questioned Plaintiff about the visibly and noticeably apparent severe bruises and abrasions. 

Because Lebby did not appear to take any action, and because Plaintiff was concerned about Assailant's well-being as well as her own, Plaintiff confided in Williams and finally told her about the first assault. 

Williams immediately reported the first assault to her superior, Nancy Post. Post served in the Senior Women's Administration as Associate Athletics Director during the relevant time period that Plaintiff attended Baylor. 

Post informed Williams that "being involved with incidents like Lozano's were not [Williams'] responsibility." Despite the severity of what has been reported to Post, she completely disregarded the assault Williams was attempting to report to Post. Post did not advise Williams of any proper or corrective course of action to take. Post did not even advise Williams of any remedial, assistive, and/or affirmative measures to alleviate and/or prevent future harm to Plaintiff. 

Post essentially did nothing to address Assailant's actions, nor get Assailant the help he desperately needed. 

No further action was taken by Post, no report was filed, and the incident was disregarded as just another complaint. Due to the lack of willingness of Post to help Plaintiff, Williams then turned to Baylor Sports Chaplain Wes Yeary and reported the first assault to him shortly after Williams reported the assault to Post. 

On or about March of 2014, Yeary met with Plaintiff regarding the first assault. During this meeting Plaintiff's bruises and abrasions were still apparent. During this meeting, Plaintiff reported Assailant's violent actions, concern for her own well-being, and expressed to Yeary that Assailant needed assistance to address his emotional and mental well-being. 

After concluding the meeting, Yeary supplied Plaintiff with literature to assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation. 

Just three weeks after Plaintiff's meeting with Yeary, in the early hours of April 5, 2014, Plaintiff was again assaulted by Assailant.

During the second assault, Assailant approached Plaintiff in the parking lot of Scruffy Murphy's, a restaurant and bar frequented by Baylor students. Visibly upset and angered about a very personal choice Plaintiff made about her own health and well-being, Assailant slammed Plaintiff's arm against a vehicle in the presence of several of Plaintiff's friends. 

Plaintiff went to the Defendant Baylor's on-campus clinic to address the injury to her arm, which included scheduling further medical screening and examination. During Plaintiff's visit to the clinic, Plaintiff provided full disclosure of how she became injured, where the injury occurred, and who caused her injury. 

"The clinic staff referred Plaintiff to the on-campus counseling center, again to "assist her in her spiritual self-worth and preservation," as if she was the cause of her own abuse. 

No further action was taken by anyone at the on-campus clinic, no report was filed with the University, and the incident was disregarded as just another complaint. Again, despite Plaintiff reporting Assailant to the on-campus clinic staff, nothing was done to formally address the matter. 

After being physically assaulted on two separate occasions and receiving no support or guidance from Defendants, Plaintiff fell into a state of hopelessness and despair which began to affect her studies. 

After having exhausted all efforts in her unsuccessful attempt to receive sufficient assistance and/or guidance from faculty and administration at Baylor, after having reported two separate assaults to them where she suffered physical, mental, and emotional injuries, Plaintiff turned to the Waco Police Department. 

On April 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed an incident report with Police to report the assault and specifically named Assailant. At the time of reporting, the dispatched officer with Police took numerous photographs of Plaintiff's injuries. 

After reporting the assaults to Police, Plaintiff was told that an investigator would follow up with her but she never heard from them. Plaintiffs calls to Police went unreturned, and again, she felt irrelevant and alone. 

Later that month in April 2014, Plaintiff was assaulted by Assailant for the third time. Following another argument between Assailant and Plaintiff in Assailant's apartment, Assailant forcibly and aggressively grabbed Plaintiff and slammed her to the ground. 

With no one else to turn to, Plaintiff again sought help from Williams. Williams advised Plaintiff to continue to follow up with the police, and again notified Yeary. Despite reporting the assaults to various members of Baylor faculty members, staff and administration, Plaintiff was never contacted by any faculty member, staff, or administrative personnel to commence an investigation, to reasonably address Assailant's actions and well-being, or to reasonably address the harm Plaintiff suffered from the assaults. 

Although Williams vehemently requested that Post do something to help Plaintiff, no further action was taken, and subsequently Williams was forced to resign one year later after voicing her discontent with the administrators. 

It was Williams' legal action against Baylor that brought to light the problems that were occurring on the university, according to the Lozano petition. An audit by the U. S. Department of Education revealed the following problems:

 a. Baylor failed to effectively implement Title IX in the wake of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague Letter;"

b. [Baylor] failed to conduct prompt, equitable, adequate, and reliable investigations; 

c. The University failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, or address its effects for individual complainants or the broader campus community; 

d. University administrators directly discouraged complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes; and 

e. Baylor's students lacked awareness of the range of conduct prohibited under Title IX and of University policies, resources or reporting options. 

 The lawsuit charges Baylor with Title IX violations, negligence, and gross negligence, and asks for damages, punitive damages, and an injunction requiring the university to change the way it deals with Title IX complaints.

Previously: Lawsuit claims MSSU running back assaulted girlfriend three times


Anonymous said...

Go Lions!

Anonymous said...

This is unacceptable! Every woman on campus should be protesting. Parents send their kids to MSSU with an expectation of safety and the football program is actively recruiting violent predators.

Anonymous said...

Quit slandering him.

Why are there two stories on this?

Anonymous said...

Slander? Which part is false?

Anonymous said...

@4:33 & 7:09 Sounds like a Baylor Bear and Waco PD problem to me. No criminal proceedings to speak of, he is fully eligible to NCAA standards. So until he goes ghetto here in Joplin, why smear MSSU? I am curious if any comment for this piece was sought out from MSSU? Jared Bruggemann AD? Denver Johnson? It is also my understanding that his transfer was contingent upon him immediately entering domestic violence counseling when he arrived. An investigative journalist could find this out for certain.

Anonymous said...

"Until he goes ghetto here in Joplin, why smear MSSU?" Welcome to the culture of denial and minimization. Yes, let's cross our fingers and hope he doesn't offend again.

Community response to domestic violence is an important measuring stick. The dismissal of such deplorable acts impacts how a community responds to violence witnessed, whether victims feel safe coming forward, and whether perpetrators are held accountable.

Our response today impacts future responses. It's important we, as a community, refuse to normalize or dismiss this behavior.

Anonymous said...

Investigative journalist Pound will be writing about memorable belt buckles he saw in a rummage sale.

Investigative journalist Finley is still working non-stop to find that perfect queso recipe.

Stay tuned.