Is Baylor University liable for a student's sexual assault? The civil trial continues

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ByMiya Shay via KTRK logo
Friday, May 28, 2021
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A former college student at Baylor University and her family are in the midst of a court battle to hold both the attackers and Baylor responsible for the alleged sexual assault that happened in her dorm.

WACO, Texas (KTRK) -- A former college student at Baylor University and her family are in the midst of a court battle to hold both the attackers and school officials responsible for the alleged sexual assault that happened in her dorm.

The young woman, who was a freshman member of the Equestrian Team at the time, was allegedly sexually assaulted by two members of the football team in 2017. A third person recorded the incident and posted portions of it on Instagram.

The sexual assault was reported, but a grand jury declined to indict the men on criminal charges.

Because one of the accused men is from Houston, the woman's family filed a civil suit in Harris County.

SEE ALSO: Kansas woman alleging dorm rape convenes own grand jury after prosecutors decline to file charges

The trial has been ongoing this past week, with the focus on whether officials from Baylor University did everything they could to keep the young woman safe.

On Thursday afternoon, the young woman's mother testified on the stand that her daughter is still suffering immensely because of the attack. She also recounted how the university told the family that their daughter would be in a safe and caring environment on campus.

The mother said university officials told her that they had made major changes after a prior sexual scandal involving former football players and former coach Art Briles.

"They said they did a lot," lead plaintiff's attorney Tom Cunningham said outside the courtroom. "They said they made a lot of progress on a remediation program. But, they didn't tell us that they had a problem at that apartment project, and they shouldn't have put her there."

SEE ALSO: 'So I raped you.' Facebook message renews woman's fight for justice after 2013 attack

The young woman's lawyer said because the university did not do enough, their client was sexually assaulted by two football players in 2017. The university says they've instituted many changes prior to the incident, and disagrees with basis of the suit.

"We regret what happened with this particular young woman," said Julie Springer, one of the attorneys representing Baylor. "But, we actually feel very strongly that we did what we said we would do after the Pepper Hamilton investigation and 105 recommendations."

Springer says the university's position is that Baylor is a safe and welcoming place for young women. However, no university can 100% prevent sexual assaults on their campuses.

"Sexual assault on campuses is nationwide, and alcohol is a big part of that. What we do is we educate and train, train and educate so students are aware of the risks," said Springer.

SEE ALSO: Report: 1 in 5 college females report experiencing sexual assault

"Baylor knew they had a sexual assault problem," said Cunningham. "They knew the particular residence hall our client was assigned to had a sexual assault problem, and they didn't tell our client."

The plaintiff's side is expected to rest its case Friday, with the defense starting likely after the Memorial holiday weekend.

It was originally thought that the president of Baylor would take the stand, but that does not appear to be part of the plans.

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