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

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The trial includes claims of sexual assault and accuses the Lynchburg school of creating a hostile environment towards the plaintiffs.

The university also promoted attacks on and discrimination against women through a series of policies that discouraged premarital sex and punished those who reported offenses, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs not mentioned in the trial include women who were students or employees of the university and a non-student who was a minor at the time of the alleged offense.

They are referred to in the trial as Jane Doe Nos. 1-12 and are seeking a jury trial to determine compensation, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday.

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

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

Second, there is a tacit policy that tolerates sexual violence, especially by male student athletes, by weighing a denial more than an allegation, the lawsuit claims.

Third, the plaintiffs in the case allege that the school engages in public and repeated retaliation against women who have reported sexual violence.

“Liberty University has deliberately created a campus environment where it is predictable that sexual assaults and rapes will occur than they would be in the absence of Liberty’s policies,” the lawsuit states.

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

“Many of the claims are the complete opposite of how the university’s policies and procedures were 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 support all victims of sexual assault that emerged.”

The school said it would investigate each allegation and that it has a “robust non-discrimination policy” that includes an amnesty policy to encourage victims to report without fear of their involvement in other activities such as drinking alcohol or sex. outside of marriage will be disciplined under the student’s honor code. “

“This policy includes a fair process for resolving disputes of rape, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation, as well as providing supportive measures as needed,” the statement told WDBJ.

Trial: Politically discouraged reporting

Some plaintiffs involved in the complaint said they were barred from reporting allegations of abuse because they wanted to admit their own violations of Liberty Way policy.

Instead of being asked to report, some plaintiffs claimed they were told they would be subject to “discipline that could include deportation,” the lawsuit states.

“Some students who actually self-reported their own violations of the Liberty Way or were victims of sexual violence … were actually disciplined and fined despite their quick report.”

A plaintiff identified in the case as Jane Doe 3, who was a student at the time, said she was told by her resident counselor that she would be punished for reporting that she had been sexually assaulted by a student athlete after a party because the School would punish her for drinking, the lawsuit claims.

After submitting the report despite her lawyer from her resident counselor, 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 had been removed from her title IX investigation file for being “too explicit”, according to the case.

Another plaintiff, Jane Doe 10, who was a student in 2014, said she was raped by her boyfriend, also a student she met through two of her roommates.

Following the alleged assault, roommates reported the plaintiff to the Student Conduct Office, according to the complaint.

Although the plaintiff “tried to make it clear that she was the victim of a rape, Liberty University’s Student Conduct Office did not allow her to do so and instead forced her to sit with her rapist and apologize to her roommates for her violation of Liberty. Way, “the complaint states.

Another plaintiff, Jane Doe 12, attended a summer camp at Liberty University as a minor in 2000, saying she was attacked by a man on campus, harassed by campus police and then forced by officers investigating the alleged attack to let photograph themselves naked by a female debate coach, the complaint states.

Two women complained about supervisors

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

Jane Doe 1 said she suffered an allergic reaction in October 2013 and that her male supervisor came to her home at two o’clock and forced her to take unlabeled medication, according to the trial.

Liberty University allowed more than 1,000 students to return to campus during the coronavirus outbreak

The woman said she went out after taking the medicine and woke up with her supervisor’s “hands on her neck” according to the trial. The plaintiff said she threatened to scream to warn her neighbors and the supervisor left. The man allegedly returned the next day and tried by force to kiss the plaintiff, who denied the advance, the complaint states.

The supervisory authority then threatened to deport the applicant, who at the time was an alien working on an H-1B visa, according to the trial.

The employee was eventually encouraged by colleagues to report his experience to Liberty University’s Human Resources Department.

“The HR department made it clear that it is considered (supervising) as completely credible because he was a ‘godman’ and (the plaintiff) as incredible because she was trying to ‘smear a godman'”, the complaint states.

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

Supervisors made “sexually explicit comments directed at her and at students and other supervisors,” according to the complaint.

This behavior was reported to HR, but the university did not take action, the lawsuit says.

The employee eventually left his job at the university due to a “bullying campaign” by the supervisor, according to the complaint.

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

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