Baylor University Football Players Allegedly Gang-Raped Student in ‘Bonding’ Exercise: Lawsuit

A federal lawsuit filed this week by a former Baylor University volleyball player alleges she was gang-raped by as many as eight men in an off-campus apartment in February 2012 as part of a hazing ritual, PEOPLE confirms.

In its most pointed accusation, the suit alleges “the gang rapes were considered a ‘bonding’ experience for the football players” and were part of a “system of hazing their freshman recruits” initiated by Baylor football players, who had their recruits invite freshmen women to house parties hosted by members of the team.

“At these parties, the girls would be drugged and gang raped, or in the words of the football players, ‘trains’ would be run on the girls,” the complaint alleges.

The suit, first reported by the Waco Tribune and obtained by PEOPLE, also claims that players took photos and videos while the alleged attacks occurred.

The suit names Baylor as the sole defendant; the players allegedly involved in assaulting the plaintiff are not named.

“These girls affected by this are seeking their day in court,” the plaintiff’s attorney, Muhammad Aziz, told the Tribune.

“We thought about this a lot, and me and my client thought about it and discussed it. Eventually, we decided to proceed,” said Aziz, who could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE. “Really, what we are seeking to enforce is just a safe education environment for the girls at the school.”

This is the seventh Title IX lawsuit brought against Baylor, which previously fired its president and head football coach and saw the resignation of its athletic director in the aftermath of a sexual assault scandal involving student athletes more than a year ago.

The current allegations — filed Tuesday by the plaintiff, identified as “Jane Doe” — accuse the university of a “deliberately indifferent response” to a culture of assault.

Among the previous complaints is a similar lawsuit earlier this year filed by “Elizabeth Doe,” who said she’d been gang-raped by Baylor athletes in 2014.

In answer to the latest claims, the university said it has been “in conversations with the victim’s legal counsel for many months in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution,” according to a statement shared with PEOPLE.

While noting “the university’s response in no way changes Baylor’s position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable,” the statement said:

“Baylor has since initiated and structurally completed 105 wide-ranging recommendations in response to issues of sexual violence within our campus community, in addition to making changes within the university and athletics leadership and investing significantly in student support services.”

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The statement adds: “As this case proceeds, Baylor maintains its ability to present facts — as available to the University — in response to the allegations contained in the legal filing. … Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”

The U.S. Department of Education is already investigating the university for its response to sexual assault accusations, reports Sports Illustrated.

A separate outside investigation, ordered by the university in August 2015 and conducted by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, earlier identified “institutional failures at every level” in Baylor’s response to allegations of sexual assault on campus.

That report’s conclusions led Baylor to fire both President Ken Starr and Art Briles, the head football coach, and suspend the athletic director, Ian McCaw, who later resigned.

Baylor has challenged other claims, however. It moved last March to dismiss an “inflammatory” Title IX lawsuit that alleged 52 rapes had been committed by 31 football players from 2011 to 2014.

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/crime/baylor-university-football-players-gang-rape-lawsuit/

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