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Second KU Student Sues University Over Alleged Rape By Same Assailant

A new lawsuit against the University of Kansas seeks unspecified damages for a student who says she was sexually assaulted by a football player.

This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. to include the comments of a KU spokeswoman.

A second University of Kansas student has sued the university after she says she was sexually assaulted by the same football player who allegedly raped a former student who sued KU last month.

The latest plaintiff, a student-athlete on the rowing team identified only as Jane Doe 7, alleges the unnamed football player sexually assaulted her in her room in Jayhawker Towers, a campus dormitory, last Aug. 29. She says she told a friend what happened but only disclosed the assault to the rowing team’s sports psychologist, Lawrence police and KU security two months after the incident.

The football player, also a resident of the dormitory, was expelled from KU earlier this year, according to the lawsuit.

Like Doe, the former student who sued KU last month, Daisy Tackett, was a member of the rowing team. Doe says she learned of the alleged assault on Tackett by the football player the same day she reported her assault to KU security and Lawrence police.

Tackett’s suit seeks unspecified damages for violations of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bars sex discrimination in education. Doe’s suit likewise seeks unspecified damages under Title IX as well as the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which bars discrimination based on disability.

In her lawsuit, Doe says she has a serious medical condition and special dietary needs. She says she was placed in Jayhawker Towers so she could prepare her own food.  

KU also placed its football players in the dorm, where the lawsuit says they received less supervision than was provided in other residence halls.

“KU knew that sexual assaults were occurring at a high rate in Jayhawker Towers,” Doe alleges in her lawsuit. “KU failed to provide adequate supervision, warnings, training, guidance and education to its athletes and KU football players in particular at Jayhawker Towers.”

Doe says she withdrew from the rowing team on Deb. 16 and KU canceled her athletic grant the next day. Before that, she says, she and other members of the rowing team were regularly berated by the team’s coach, Rob Catloth, about their weight and, in Doe’s case, her medical condition.

In a written statement provided by her lawyer, Doe said that KU made her feel “worthless.”

“After I reported my assault, everything KU did made me feel like they were trying to get me to crack and leave,” she said in the statement. “My rowing team coaches didn’t care, didn’t help, and they did not protect me.  

“KU had the chance to do the right thing. But it seems like they don’t do the right thing unless they are forced. My assailant should have been kicked off the football team and out of the University immediately.  How many women need to be victimized before KU will take action?”

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a spokeswoman for KU, said the university doesn't comment on individual sexual assault investigations. But she said that when it receives a sexual assault report, "we quickly take action to support the person who came forward and work to investigate and resolve the matter. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false."

Unlike Tackett, who left the university, Doe remains a student at KU. Her lawsuit says that since the alleged assault, she “often feels anxious and nervous around the athletes, is easily tearful, sometimes paralyzed with fear and infuriated with anger. She has experienced flashbacks of the sexual assault.”

Like Tackett, Doe contends that Jayhawker Towers has a history of sexual assaults. The lawsuit cites nine reported sexual assaults in or around the dorm since March 2013.

Tackett’s lawsuit was filed shortly after her parents filed a class-action lawsuit against KU under Kansas’ consumer protection law. The novel legal case claims that KU falsely represented that its dorms are safe and secure, and seeks damages on behalf of anyone who enrolled a student at KU in the past three years. 

The plaintiffs in all three lawsuits are represented by the Kansas City law firm of Brown & Curry.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

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