Football team used allegedly rapes as ‘bonding’ experiences
AMERICA'S beleaguered Baylor University has been plunged further into scandal with new allegations as many as eight football players drugged a fellow athlete and took turns raping her.
The lawsuit filed by a former Baylor volleyball player known only as "Jane Doe" is the seventh federal Title IX lawsuit against the Waco, Texas institution.
At least 17 women have reported having been victims of sexual or domestic violence, including five alleged gang rapes, at the hands of 19 Baylor University football players.
Another lawsuit claims a minimum of 52 rapes have been perpetrated by no fewer than 31 players on the team between 2011 and 2014.
Victims allege players hazed freshmen recruits by making them lure freshman girls to house parties, where the girls would be drugged and gang raped - or in the alleged words of the football players "'trains' would be run on the girls".
According to the suit, these gang rape sessions were a "bonding" experience for the team and participants would take photos and videos of "semiconscious" girls and then "circulate" them to other players and friends.
One plaintiff has submitted a 21-second video allegedly featuring two girls being gang raped as evidence.
In March, state investigators joined federal authorities to dig into how the school handled its years-long abuse scandal involving at least 125 alleged female victims.
Doe's filing claims that the football team, under former coach Art Briles and former athletics director Ian McCaw, "had run wild, in more ways than one, and Baylor was doing nothing to stop it."
She claimed she was gang raped in a practice that had become common for the team and is seeking actual and compensatory damages in addition to legal fees and a jury trial.
"Really, what we are seeking to enforce is just a safe education environment for the girls at the school," Doe's lawyer Muhammad Aziz, told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
"These girls affected by this are seeking their day in court. We thought about this a lot, and … eventually, we decided to proceed. Really, what we are seeking to enforce is just a safe education environment for the girls at the school."
Doe's alleged assault is referenced in several other lawsuits against Baylor, including one that claims the players admitted to "fooling around" with Doe, calling it "just a little bit of playtime." They allegedly told their coaches the gang-rape was consensual.
According to a legal filing in February, when Briles learned the names of players allegedly involved in Doe's rape, he responded, "Those are some bad dudes ... why was she around those guys?"
It is the latest fallout for the school that is still reeling from a widespread sexual assault scandal that cost Baylor University president Ken Starr and Briles their jobs, and led to the resignation of McCaw a year later.
In January, a lawsuit was filed accusing 31 players of committing 52 rapes, five of them gang rapes, over a period of four years.
After the lawsuit, Baylor released text messages that implicated Briles in covering up the assaults.
The latest lawsuit claims players harassed and verbally abused Doe in public after her alleged assault by up to eight men.
She was told by one player she "wanted it" and nude photos were taken of her during the rapes. Doe states she remembers the players shouting, "Grab her phone! Delete my numbers and texts!" before raping her.
She told her mother about the 2012 incident, and a meeting with an assistant football coach was arranged. However, the mother never heard from the coach again, according to the suit.
Doe also claims players broke into her apartment and trashed it, stealing money and a necklace. She reported the crime to Waco police, but no charges were filed based on an understanding her belongings would be returned.
In addition, Doe alleges that when she took a dog belonging to a Baylor player to the vet after the animal was injured in a dogfight organised by the team - the players spread a rumour she had stolen the dog.
The plaintiff claims she met with Briles and told the football chaplain about the rape and robbery, but neither reported it to authorities.
She dropped out of Baylor in May 2013 after another football player told her he had heard she was raped by eight of his teammates.
- with wires