According to a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, a former student at the Virginia-based Liberty University claimed that the evangelical college failed to investigate her sexual assault allegation properly.
The case involves a student, identified as Jane Doe, who claimed she was raped by fellow student Jordan Digges on April 27, 2021, at The Oasis, an off-campus student housing complex. According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred after a party at the housing complex's pool and courtyard.
As reported by The Christian Post, "excessive and underage drinking" allegedly took place at the party for hours "unabated and unmonitored."
Digges was accused of being intoxicated and following Doe into her room, where he allegedly strangled and raped her. Hours later, Doe went to a local hospital, where she received a forensic examination. She also filed a police report with a Campbell County Sheriff's Department deputy.
She also reported the incident to Liberty University campus police but was told that they could not investigate the matter because it was beyond their jurisdiction.
Doe said that Liberty University did not look into the matter further and subsequently accused her of violating the student code of conduct. Despite being told to file a report with the school's Title IX office, the plaintiff alleged that the Evangelical college did not conduct an investigation into her allegations for the rest of the semester. She also noted that Liberty later accused her of violating the student code of conduct.
"Despite their knowledge of the incident, Liberty failed to investigate the matter and did not take any action or protective measures in response," the lawsuit states.
"Instead, Liberty demonstrated systematic, deliberate indifference, retaliated against the Plaintiff, and perpetuated a sexually hostile and dangerous environment on and around campus," the complaint added.
Due to "Liberty's conduct, Plaintiff Jane Doe suffered immense damages," including damage to her "academic standing," being "ostracized from the university community," and being "accused by the administration of violating the 'Liberty Way' (Liberty's code of student conduct)."
Following the incident, the suit states that Doe "lived in regular fear of encountering her assailant on and around campus, and dealt with daily mental, emotional, and psychological trauma." The suit also asserts that Doe was ultimately "forced out of Liberty University."
Also listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are companies that have owned or operated the housing complex.
"No security or other personnel of The Oasis took any measures to prohibit the
excessive and underage drinking that took place for hours in the common areas of the complex," the lawsuit claims.
In an emailed statement to The Christian Post on Monday, a Liberty University spokesperson said that the school "has not reviewed the lawsuit and therefore declines to make a specific, public comment on the suit at this time."
"Liberty University will certainly address these claims in court," the statement reads.
At present, the U.S. Department of Education has conducted an investigation into Liberty University's handling of reported sexual assault and the university's compliance with the Clery Act, which requires institutions of higher education to extend support to victims of sexual violence.
The lawsuit follows a class-action lawsuit filed by 12 women last June, where they also alleged that Liberty University mishandled reports of sexual assault.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.