University of Nebraska officials say they acted quickly and appropriately in handling complaints of sexual misconduct against male athletes and other students, following a motion filed Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit in which nine women denounced sex discrimination and violation of the Title IX Equal Opportunity Act.
The lawsuit, filed in July 2020 in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, contains numerous allegations from women – one of whom is a former Nebraska volleyball star – that the school mishandled complaints of sexual assault and harassment, including reports of allegations against at least five athletes.
The complaint alleges violations of Title IX of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, as well as racial discrimination, negligence, and lack of due process. In the document, the women allege that school officials made mistakes in investigating some of their returns. The lawsuit shows that the university treats complaints of sexual misconduct against student-athletes differently than other complaints.
Although not directly named, two of the athletes named in the lawsuit – Katerian LeGrone and Andre Hunt – are former Nebraska football players accused of sexual assault in Lancaster County, Nebraska. The student, who is not a party to the lawsuit, told police and the NU Title IX office that the players raped her in August 2019. The university suspended her last spring.
Former NU volleyball star Capri Davis, whose name appears in the lawsuit, and a friend using the pseudonym Jane Doe 4, told NU’s Title IX office in April 2019 that LeGrone and Hunt placed their hands on the women’s buttocks and groped them without their consent at a party the month before.
According to the lawsuit, there was no investigation at the time and they heard nothing from the IX Commission investigators until they reported the incident again, which happened in the fall after they learned of the alleged rape in August.
In its response, the university says the women did not make a formal complaint or request an investigation in April 2019.
After the university began its investigation this fall, Doe 4 reported that she had also been sexually assaulted by LeGrone and another football player in August 2018. In neither case did Nebraska’s Title IX investigators find athletes responsible for sexual misconduct.
According to the lawsuit, Doe 4 told the investigator that she had a class with one of the men, and the investigator offered her no choice but to avoid that class, such as suspending the class or allowing her to change classes or attend it remotely. Nebraska’s motion to dismiss does not specifically address this allegation.
The motion to dismiss states that the women were unable to specify exactly which player allegedly touched them inappropriately and at what time during the March 2019 party. The petition also states that while this conduct is obscene, it does not constitute offensive, intrusive and objectively hurtful conduct that can be said to deny women access to education.
In August 2018, a woman reported having sex with a man when his girlfriend switched places and had sex with her without her consent. According to the motion, both men testified that the second man was never in the room and that there were no other witnesses to support the woman’s version.
The motion explains why a complaint may be dismissed where the complainant alleges deliberate indifference, but in reality simply disagrees with the school’s outcome.
Other detailed responses to the allegations in the petition point to instances where university officials say the women gave different versions of events in separate interviews, did not ask about specific provisions or policies, or refused to make official reports.
The plaintiffs cite no facts to support their claim that government officials violated their constitutional rights, the motion says. Instead, plaintiffs make broad and conclusory allegations that do more to fuel the scandal than to prove a violation of the Constitution.
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