12 Women File Class-Action Lawsuit against Liberty University for Failing to Properly Investigate Claims of Sexual Assault, Rape

  Kayla Koslosky | ChristianHeadlines.com Editor | Tuesday, July 20, 2021
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Twelve women have filed a class-action lawsuit against Liberty University for failing to properly investigate, or take seriously, accusations of sexual assault and rape.

According to ABC 13 News, the 12 women, identified only as Jane Does 1 -12, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday morning.

In the suit, the women, all of whom are either former Liberty students or employees, claimed that campus police and school officials "enabled on-campus rapes" and discouraged complaints about sexual assaults and rapes.

The suit also claims that the victims of these violent sexual acts were sometimes threatened with punishments for breaking Liberty's honor code, "The Liberty Way."

According to the 2020 version of the honor code, "Sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University."

Further, students can receive 10 disciplinary points and a possible fine of $50 for "visiting alone with the opposite sex at an off-campus residence; entering the residence hallway, quad, or on-campus apartment of the opposite sex or allowing the same; visiting any dwelling or residence with a member of the opposite sex in inappropriate circumstances."

Students who are in "any state of undress with a member of the opposite sex" receive 15 disciplinary points and can receive a fine of $150 and/or be required to perform 15 hours of community service. For spending the night with a member of the opposite sex, students receive 30 disciplinary points and may receive a $300 fine, 30 hours of community service and/or possible dismissal or expulsion from the school.

Despite these rules, according to the lawsuit, many of the women's complaints were minimally investigated or not investigated at all, and in some cases, the women claim they "were explicitly told they would be subject to discipline for violating the Liberty Way."

"It just boggles my mind, that these people who claim to be Christians, cared more about covering it up than they cared about actually helping me," Jane Doe 2, one of the plaintiffs, said in an interview.

In the lawsuit, Doe 2 said that she reported three incidences to Liberty officials. First, the woman reported being sexually assaulted by a man. She then reported being stalked by that same man. Later, Doe 2 was gang-raped by three men, one of whom she believed to have been the first man to assault and stalk her sexually. She reported this incident too, but claims no action was taken by the school. According to ABC 13 News, the lawsuit claims no Title IX report or criminal charges were filed against the assailants.

In another instance, in 2000, a 15-year-old girl, Doe 12, was attending a summer debate camp at Liberty University when she was sexually assaulted by a man who would later be convicted of murdering two young women.

"While in a dormitory hall, Doe 12 says she met a soft-spoken man who she later learned was Jesse Matthew Jr., who, years later, was sentenced to four life sentences for murdering Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham," the lawsuit notes.

According to the complaint, Matthew "grabbed her and carried her into a bathroom," where he attempted to "grope her legs and breasts."

After Doe 12 reported the incident, she was allegedly forced to ride in the same car to the police station as her attacker.

While at the police station, Doe 12 was reportedly asked to strip down so that officers could photograph her body. Doe 12 said that she demanded to be brought to a hospital to be examined by doctors, but her request was denied, and a female debate coach was asked to photograph her naked body. 

Liberty University Police Officers also reportedly told Doe 12 she could be "expelled from the camp because she was wearing pants in an academic building, which was at the time a violation of the Liberty Way."

Further, Campus police reportedly refused to believe her story, claiming that she would be criminally charged for filing a false police report if she did not withdraw her sexual assault report made against Matthew.

Doe 12 was also allegedly instructed to wash her hands "to destroy any DNA evidence and present her nails for inspection."

Doe 12 later learned that several friends had been approached by a man matching Matthew's description asking for sex. She told campus police, but nothing came of it.

The lawsuit accuses Liberty University of the following violations:

  1. Pre-Assault Deliberate Indifference/Hostile Environment (Does 1-6 & 6-12 v. Liberty University)
  2. Count II: Post-assault Deliberate Indifference (Does 1-4 & 6, 8-12 v. Liberty University)
  3. Count III: Hostile Environment (Does 1-12 v. v. Liberty University)
  4. Count IV: Retaliation (Does 11-6 & 9-12 v. Liberty University)
  5. Count V: Pregnant and Parenting Deliberate Indifference/Hostile Environment (Doe 5 v. Liberty University)
  6. Count VI: Negligence (Does 1-4 & 6-12 v. Liberty University)

According to ABC 13 News, Doe 2 is hoping that this lawsuit will give the victims a sense of justice and encourage change at Liberty University.

"Nothing can fix the countless ways my experience with Liberty has caused physical, mental, emotional and spiritual damage," Doe 2 said. "This lawsuit gives me and other victims the opportunity to regain a sense of justice. I feel heard for the first time in 15 years. Even over the past few months of revelations about Liberty's mishandling, the school remains silent. It's time for Liberty's administration and board to be held accountable for their treatment of victims that continues to this day."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff


Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.