Baylor Univ. irresponsible, broke Title IX, jury states
Paula Lavigne, ESPN
- Staff WriterOct 24, 2023, 05:53 PM ET Close Information analyst and reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise and Investigative System.
- Winner, 2014 Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award; finalist, 2012 IRE broadcast award; winner, 2011 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Guard Dog Journalism; Emmy nominated, 2009.
WACO, Texas– Jurors discovered Baylor University was irresponsible and in infraction of Title IX in a federal civil trial in which a previous female trainee alleged having been physically abused by a football player in 2014.
Baylor alumna Dolores Lozano submitted a claim in 2016 claiming that the school’s admitted campus-wide failures in attending to sexual violence put her at danger for assault, which several university staff members didn’t adequately react to her reports that then-football player Devin Chafin physically assaulted her three times in spring 2014.
“After all this time it was never about me, or just Baylor, and it was definitely never about the money,” Lozano stated in an interview Tuesday. “It was about all the ladies throughout college schools who go unheard. I want to tell them I see you, I hear you, and I’m meaning you and this had to do with everyone.”
Jurors provided the verdict Tuesday afternoon after starting considerations midday Monday. They granted Lozano $270,000 for the neglect claim but no monetary award for the Title IX offense.
“This case had to do with Baylor lastly being held accountable in a court of law,” stated Sheila Haddock, an attorney for Lozano. “After seven long years of news release and finger-pointing, Baylor finally had to deal with a jury.”
1 Related Baylor issued a declaration Tuesday that read, “We are certainly disappointed in the decision in this case, as we continue to compete that Baylor coaches and staff members in Sports and throughout the school reported and handled these occurrences in the proper, legally and scientifically recommended manner.”
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman dismissed the claim of gross negligence– typically considered to be intentional or reckless– versus Baylor as well as those versus previous athletic director Ian McCaw and fired football coach Art Briles, who had likewise been accuseds in the federal suit and affirmed Thursday.Throughout five days of testament last week, jurors heard from former regents, coaches, administrators, Lozano’s mother and others. Chafin appeared via a prerecorded video of his deposition, in which he denied he was violent with Lozano and stated he didn’t inform his coaches that there had actually been any physical altercations in between them.According to Lozano’s claim, the football chaplain, an assistant football coach, counseling center personnel, judicial affairs, the coach for the acrobatics and tumbling group for which Lozano worked as a supervisor and athletic department management, including McCaw, were each informed about the alleged assaults.A concern before jurors was whether those individuals effectively reacted to her reports and provided her the best alternatives to look for help and pursue further investigation.Zeke Fortenberry, a lawyer for Lozano, had actually questioned associate dean for trainee conduct administration Bethany McCraw on Monday about an email chain in which she went over Lozano’s claims and next actions. Fortenberry asked why she never ever followed up with Lozano to examine her and make sure she comprehended her options.”If [Lozano] decided she wished to pursue the student conduct process, she would connect to us,”McCraw stated.” When you’re handling declared victims the more individuals they need to talk with, the
harder it can be for them. “In her own testament Tuesday, Lozano stated she had gotten a business card with McCraw’s name and telephone number on it, however that she did not recall anybody informing her what her reporting alternatives were under Title IX.Following one of the alleged assaults, Lozano affirmed that she attended among the couple of counseling sessions provided by Baylor, however said the therapist appeared to focus more on an abortion she said she had than her reports of being attacked by Chafin.
“I simply keep in mind leaving the sessions feeling like I was going to hell,” she stated. Lozano said she still experiences anxiety and trauma as a result of the abuse she reported.Prior to Lozano’s trial, the university settled lawsuits submitted by other women alleging Title IX violations,
consisting of one last month.Throughout Lozano’s trial, attorneys for Baylor tried to draw distinctions in between Lozano and the women whose reports of sexual violence had actually belonged to the 2016 investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton that discovered prevalent institutional failures in complying with Title IX and responding to victims. The examination resulted in the termination of Briles
, suspension and ultimate resignation of McCaw and demotion and later departure of President Ken Starr. Starr passed away in 2022. Baylor attorney Julie Springer reminded jurors during closing arguments of what she said at the start of trial: The university would accept duty for the failings produced in the Pepper Hamilton investigation. “But I likewise informed you that this case was not like the cases in the findings,”she stated.” Baylor did not look the other way. Baylor looked directly at Ms. Lozano, and they offered her assistance. “Springer likewise routinely
drew a difference in between the Pepper Hamilton examination’s focus on sexual assaults and Lozano’s claims, which were accusations of domestic violence that Springer said were the result of “uniquely personal circumstances.”Lozano’s lawyers frequently conjured up the general findings of the Pepper Hamilton examination to make their case that the climate at Baylor that prevented reporting and responding to assaults, and specific concerns with football player discipline, put Lozano at a”heightened risk”for attack and totaled up to discrimination under Title IX.Haddock stated statement from 2 previous Baylor regents who detailed the findings from the examination and parts of the discussion from Pepper Hamilton lawyers about how poorly the school, and specifically the
football program, reacted to victims of sexual violence was perhaps the greatest evidence before the jury.McCaw and Briles stated they did not get training on Title IX and its commitments for responding to reports of sexual violence until fall 2014, and other statement and proof revealed that Baylor lagged in its compliance with the
federal gender equity law.Testimony from Lozano, mental health experts and others also weighed in on how much Lozano, now a justice of the peace in Harris County, Texas, suffered emotionally and battled with trauma and anxiety. “This trial’s been a long trial, and it’s been 9 years because it took place. And throughout all of it, Dolores has stayed hard, strong, susceptible, “Fortenberry said.”However just because she has a great job doesn’t imply she’s not damaged. “While Lozano got a financial award for Baylor’s neglect, the jury did not find that she could declare damages for the Title IX violation, for which she
declared in part that the university’s discrimination deprived her of her instructional opportunities.Lozano graduated from Baylor in May 2014, within weeks after having actually reported the abuse, and Haddock said a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that avoided plaintiffs from declaring damages for emotional distress in similar cases likewise hindered their options.Baylor’s declaration Tuesday noted that officials at the university “seriously regret that the complainant in this case had a hard experience while a student at Baylor, and our prayers stay with her now and
into the future.”The school’s declaration concluded by noting, “This decision will serve to lastly conclude all litigation emerging from the 2015-16 age.”Freelance reporter Jenna Fitzgerald in Waco added to this report.