Ten women recently filed a Title IX lawsuit against Baylor University, alleging that they were victims of sexual assault while attending the university. Baylor University faces six other Title IX lawsuits following a sexual assault scandal that led to several staff firings and resignations. The university has also come to settlement agreements with several other alleged victims of Title IX civil rights violations.
Title IX is a federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Any institution that receives federal financial assistance from the Education Department is subject to Title IX, including state and local educational agencies, postsecondary institutions, charter schools, libraries and museums. Such institutions must operate in a non-discriminatory manner in all capacities such as recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics and employment.
In this case, Baylor University has asked the judge to halt the discovery process to prevent the disclosure of thousands of former and current Baylor students’ medical and counseling records. The judge has not yet made a decision as to whether these documents are discoverable. However, the federal judge did recently order that Baylor disclose what the university considers to be students’ private documents.
The federal judge ordered Baylor to produce sexual violence and harassment reports from all students dating back to 2003. He also demanded that the university hand over interviews, notes, and other evidence from another case as proof of how sexual violence reports are handled at Baylor. The administrator who possesses most of these documents has been accused of failing to act when women reported sexual assaults. This administrator flagged approximately 32,000 of the 45,000 documents in her possession due to federal privacy concerns.
According to the university’s motion, the discovery records at issue contain the records of at least 6,200 students, some of which are not related to sexual assault or Title IX claims. In a statement, the university maintains that they are trying to protect the privacy of their students who are uninvolved with the ongoing case. The university also stated that it filed the motion to expedite discovery and advance the litigation process – a goal that is in the best interest of both parties.
A school spokesman reports that Baylor will soon be filing its mandamus brief to a higher appeals court in hopes that the Fifth U.S. Circuit of Appeals will prevent disclosure of the non-party records. Some note an apparent conflict of interest regarding that appeal as a judge serving on the Fifth Circuit is also a Baylor regent. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers stated that Baylor’s motion is just another attempt to hide information and avoid responsibility for their civil rights violations, however, Baylor maintains that it is protecting the privacy of its students.
If you were the victim of sexual assault at an educational institution or a program or activity that receives federal financial assistance, contact the Pennsylvania civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar. Contact us online or call 215-557-0099 to discuss your case with a member of our legal team who is experienced in handling Title IX claims. We have offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey and we represent clients nationwide.