CHADRON — A suit alleging discrimination by Chadron State College officials will be allowed to continue.
On Friday, Feb. 7, Judge Joseph F. Battallion denied a motion for summary judgment in a case filed against the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Colleges, the system that oversees Chadron State College.
A woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed suit against the college in June 2017, alleging that her Title IX rights were violated in the handling of her sexual assault case by Chadron State officials, according to court records in the U.S. States District Court for the District of Nebraska. She also alleged racial discrimination in the handling of her case and asked for punitive damages “so as to make an example of conduct that will not be tolerated.”
The trustees had moved for a summary judgment, seeking a dismissal in the case. However, in his ruling, Battallion ruled that a summary judgment would not be proper unless it was shown that their was no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Evidence, viewed in the light favorable to Jane Doe, shows that there are genuine issues of material fact on whether the college’s response to the rape report “were deliberately indifferent to her Title IX rights.
“The plaintiff has presented facts sufficient to support a reasonable inference that the College’s response to serious, admitted allegations of nonconsesnual activity was inadequate,” Battalion said. He called the incidents “troubling” and “that administrators were aware of the plaintiff’s allegations of brutal, violent, non-consensual incidents.”
The woman had been an international student at Chadron State College, graduating in December 2016. She attended the school on an F-1 student visa and as an international student, she could only work in on-campus employment. She worked 20 or more hours a week as a campus security officer and had been assigned to the Andrews Hall complex, a complex that connects three dorms.
The woman alleged that on Sept. 19, 2016, she had been working as a security officer when a man, identified in the suit as a student-athlete and on a 2015 online roster as a football player for the CSC team, sexually assaulted the woman. She reported the sexual assault to a counselor, underwent a rape kit examination at the local hospital and reported the sexual assault to police. The sexual assault was also reported to CSC Student Affairs and Title IX administrators.
In a meeting with the schools Title IX coordinator, she also reported that the student had also sexually assaulted her in May 2016. CSC officials also interviewed the football player, who did not claim to have received affirmative or verbal consent and also admitted the woman had told him to stop at least once. According to the court documents, the man also allegedly admitted that the woman had ran away from him and he had pursued her into a bathroom.
In the woman’s suit, though the school’s Title IX coordinator allegedly determined the assaults had occurred and weren’t consensual, the football player had been allowed to stay on campus, despite a previous history of having banned previous students suspected of sexual assault. He was also not suspended. The woman alleges in her suit that the victim’s in instances where the suspects had been banned from campus were white/Caucasian, while she is black/African.
“On information and I believe, in at least one other case involving a black victim of sexual assault, CSC allowed the perpetrator to remain on campus,” the suit alleges.
School officials placed the on “behavioral probation,” which included him being required to read a book on male violence against women and required to journal his thoughts as he read the book, complete an online course on consent and counseling.
The woman says she suffered panic attacks and engaged in serious behaviors, like cutting, because of fears that she would encounter the man in public spaces at the college. The woman also suffered financially because she had to request her work assignment be moved to another hall, which diminished her hours and therefore, her income to avoid contact with the man. She discontinued counseling because she and the man would be completing counseling at the same site. The college approved the woman for independent study and to have a campus security officer, however, the suit states: “What Doe wanted was the freedom to attend classes, like any other student, without fear of encountering (the male student).
According to the suit, the woman expressed her concerns and disappointment about the man’s continued presence at the college in writing and through the assistance of counsel.
Because the man had been allowed to remain on campus, the suit alleges, the woman had to limit her activities to avoid coming into contact with him at public areas of the complex.
In the Nebraska State Colleges response, it claimed that “it was not deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff’s Title IX rights.” In the response, the college alleged that it had investigated the allegation and says at least some activity between the victim and the man had been consensual, but because he continued sexual intercourse despite her asking him to stop, CSC officials found that it constituted sexual assault. CSC officials found it was not necessary or appropriate to ban the man from campus and allege that the woman did not communicate any violations of the no contact orders to officials. In its response, it says that college officials tried to “ensure full access to Doe’s educational opportunities,” including approving online courses and providing her with a security escort, and say that the woman did not take advantage of counseling services or, after being directed by counsel, did not respond to state additional ways the college could accommodate her needs or concerns. It denied that the student was involved in athletic activities during the 2016 semester.
The two parties were ordered to schedule a pretrial conference and trial, according to the order.
The suit is not the only one filed against Chadron State College in recent years alleging improper handling of discrimination.
According to court documents, a settlement had been reached in a suit filed against Chadron State College by the family of a woman who alleged that the school officials failure to prevent dating violence. The family of Fatima Larios filed suit in February 2017. The woman had been a member of the softball team and died in Jan. 31, 2015, of suicide.Her family alleged that she had been the victim of dating violence while she attended CSC and that officials failed to investigate reports by her teammates and an assistant coach.
A settlement conference had been held on Jan. 13 and logs in the court file note that a settlement had been reached and terms of the settlement were read into the record, though the audio file of that record is restricted to parties of the lawsuit. On Jan. 14, the judge had issued an order on Jan. 14 for the parties to file a joint stimulation to dismiss with 30 days.