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Liberty University sued by 12 women claiming school policies made sexual assault and rape more likely


The lawsuit includes allegations of sexual assault and accuses the Lynchburg School of creating a hostile environment towards the plaintiffs.

The university has also encouraged attacks and discrimination against women through a series of policies that discourage premarital sex and punish those who report misconduct, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs, who are not named in the lawsuit, include women who were students or employed at the university and a non-student who was a minor at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.

They are named in the case as Jane Doe’s Nos. 1 through 12 and are seeking a jury trial to determine damages, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

According to the complaint, the school created the environment in three ways:

First, the lawsuit alleges that “The Liberty Way,” which is the school’s code of honor for students, makes it difficult to report sexual violence because it does not clearly protect students who report penalties for infractions, including being in a place where alcohol is served – or being alone with a member of the opposite sex.

Second, there is an unspoken policy that condones sexual violence, especially by male student-athletes, weighing more heavily in denial than allegation, according to the lawsuit.

Third, the plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit that the school engages in public and repeated reprisals against women who have reported sexual violence.

“Liberty University has intentionally created a campus environment where sexual assault and rape are more likely to occur than they would be in the absence of Liberty’s policies,” the lawsuit said.

CNN has contacted Liberty University for comment, but has not received a response. In a statement to CNN, Liberty University called the allegations “deeply disturbing, if they turn out to be true.”

“Many of the claims are the opposite of how the University’s policies and procedures have been designed to work over the years,” the University said in the statement. “Liberty has invested heavily in programs and staff to help maintain a safe campus and to support all victims of sexual assault who have come forward.”

The school said it would investigate each allegation and have a “strong non-discrimination policy, which includes an amnesty policy to encourage victims to report without fear of their involvement in other activities. such as drinking alcohol or having extra-marital sex be punished under the student honor code. “

“This policy includes a fair process to resolve disputes regarding rape, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and reprisals, as well as the provision of supports where appropriate,” the statement told WDBJ.

Prosecution: statement advised against by policy

Some complainants involved in the complaint said they were discouraged from reporting assault allegations because they would admit their own violations of Liberty Way policy.

Instead of being encouraged to come forward, some plaintiffs alleged that they had been told they would be subject to “discipline which may include deportation,” the lawsuit said.

“Some students who have self-reported their own Liberty Way violations or who have been sexually abused… have in fact been sanctioned and fined despite being promptly reported.”

A plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe 3, who was a student at the time, said her resident advisor told her she would face penalties for reporting she was sexually assaulted by a student athlete after a party because the school would penalize her for drinking, the lawsuit claims.

After making the report despite the warning from her resident advisor, she was “forced to undergo” spiritual guidance “,” according to the complaint.

The student had included photos of bruises she suffered during her alleged attack in her report, which she later discovered to have been removed from her Title IX investigation file for being “too explicit”, depending on the suit.

A second complainant, Jane Doe 10, who was a student in 2014, said she was raped by her boyfriend, also a student, whom she met through two of her roommates.

After the alleged assault, the roommates reported the complainant to the Office of Student Conduct, the complaint says.

Although the complainant “tried to make it clear that she had been raped, the Liberty University Student Conduct Office gave her no opportunity to do so and, instead, the forced her to sit down with her rapist and apologize to her roommates for her violation of the Liberty Way, ”the complaint says.

Another complainant, Jane Doe 12, attended a Liberty University summer camp as a minor in 2000 and said she was attacked by a man on campus, harassed by campus police and then forced by officers investigating the alleged attack to be photographed naked by a debate coach, the complaint says.

Two women complained about supervisors

Two of the plaintiffs were employees of Liberty University at the time of the incidents detailed in the lawsuit.

Jane Doe 1 said she suffered from an allergic reaction in October 2013 and her male supervisor came to her house at 2 a.m. and forced her to take unmarked medication, according to the lawsuit.

Liberty University sued by 12 women claiming school policies made sexual assault and rape more likely

The woman said she passed out after taking the drug and woke up with her supervisor’s “hands on the neck”, according to the lawsuit. The complainant said she threatened to shout to alert her neighbors and the supervisor left. The man reportedly returned the next day and attempted to forcefully kiss the complainant, who rejected the advance, the complaint says.

The supervisor then threatened to deport the complainant, who was a foreign national working on an H-1B visa at the time, according to the lawsuit.

The employee was eventually encouraged by colleagues to report her experience to the human resources department at Liberty University.

The “HR department made it clear that they considered (the supervisor) to be totally credible because he was a ‘man of god’ and (the complainant) as unbelievable because she was trying to ‘smear a man of god “”, indicates the complaint.

Another complainant, identified as Jane Doe 8, said she was “subjected to widespread and systematic sexual harassment” by the same supervisor when she was employed at the university from November 2008 to October 2011.

The supervisor made “sexually explicit comments about herself, students and other supervisors,” according to the complaint.

The conduct was reported to HR, but the university took no action, the lawsuit says.

The employee ultimately quit her job at the university due to a “bullying campaign” carried out by the supervisor, according to the complaint.

CNN’s Connor Spielmaker and Kelly McCleary contributed to this report.

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