Prairie View A&M Lawsuit

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Prairie View A&M Lawsuit
  IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT   SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS   HOUSTON DIVISION MARY DOE, § § Plaintiff § § CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:18-cv-399   v. § § JURY DEMANDED   PRAIRIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY § § Defendant. § PLAINTIFF’S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT AND JURY DEMAND Plaintiff Mary Doe (“Plaintiff”) files this Original Complaint and Jury Demand complaining of Defendant Prairie View A&M University (“Defendant” or “Prairie View A&M”). In support thereof, Plaintiff would show the Court as follows: I.   PRELIMINARY STATEMENT 1.   At all relevant times, Prairie View A&M received federal funding for its academic programs and activities and was subject to the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a) (hereinafter, “Title IX”). 2.   Title IX provides that “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex,  be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). 3.   Title IX is enforceable through an individual’s private right of action and allows for the recovery of damages. The United States Supreme Court has held that a school that receives federal funding can be held liable under Title IX for student-on-student harassment.  Davis v. Monroe Cty. Bd. of Educ ., 526 U.S. 629 (1999).  Davis  held that a complainant may Case 4:18-cv-00399 Document 1 Filed in TXSD on 02/09/18 Page 1 of 10  2  prevail in a Title IX damages action against a school in cases of student-on-student harassment where the funding recipient is:   (a)   “deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment of which the recipient has actual knowledge,” and    (b)   “the harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can  be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or  benefits provided by the school.”  Davis , 526 U.S. at 650. 4.   On April 4, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights issued its “Dear Colleague Letter” to help universities such as Prairie View A&M comply with the requirements of Title IX, to explain that the requirements of Title IX pertaining to sexual harassment also covered sexual violence, and to explain the specific Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence. 5.   On April 29, 2014, the   U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights sent out a second Dear Colleague Letter (FAQs) with specific guidance on University compliance with Title IX and sexual harassment/violence. 6.   This case arises from Defendant’s deliberately indifferent response to reports of student-on-student sexual assault and subsequent sex-based harassment. Specifically, Defendant’s failure to promptly and appropriately investigate and respond to Plaintiff’s assault furthered sexual harassment and a hostile environment, effectively denying Plaintiff, and other female students, access to educational opportunities. Plaintiff brings this action to redress a hostile educational environment pursuant to Title IX.   Case 4:18-cv-00399 Document 1 Filed in TXSD on 02/09/18 Page 2 of 10  3 II.   PARTIES 7.   Plaintiff Mary Doe 1  is an individual who, at the time of the sexual assault complained of herein, was a student-athlete attending Prairie View A&M. 8.   Defendant Prairie View A&M University is a public university with its campus located in Prairie View, Waller County, Texas. Defendant may be served through its President, Dr. Ruth J. Simmons at the Office of the President, 700 University Drive, Prairie View, Texas 77446 or by serving its registered agent, Jim Davis, Deputy AG for Civil Litigation, Price Daniel, Sr. Building, 8 th  Floor, 209 W. 14 th  Street, Austin, Texas 78701. III.   JURISDICTION AND VENUE 9.   The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which gives district courts srcinal jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 10.   Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), since Defendant resides or resided in this district and the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this district. IV.   FACTS 11.   Plaintiff was a student-athlete at Prairie View A&M University from the spring of 2015 to the spring of 2017. 12.   On February 18, 2015, Plaintiff was sexually assaulted by a male Prairie View A&M student-athlete in her on-campus apartment. The next day, Plaintiff reported the sexual 1  “Mary Doe” has been substituted for Plaintiff’s name for all causes of action brought through this Complaint which would otherwise publish important privacy interests of Plaintiff. Plaintiff intends to file a Motion to Proceed Under Pseudonym, requesting the Court sign an order allowing her to proceed in the above-captioned matter using a  pseudonym after a civil action number is assigned to this case. Case 4:18-cv-00399 Document 1 Filed in TXSD on 02/09/18 Page 3 of 10  4 assault to the Prairie View A&M University Police Department. Prairie View A&M police escorted Plaintiff to the Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital for a sexual assault examination. Plaintiff’s coach, a Prairie View A&M employee, met Plaintiff at the hospital and repeatedly told her that she did not need to tell her parents that she was sexually assaulted. Upon information and belief, no further action was taken by Prairie View A&M officials despite the fact that they had knowledge of Plaintiff’s sexual assault and the name of Plaintiff’s assailant. 13.   Following Plaintiff’s sexual assault and unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s assailant fled the state. Within two days of the sexual assault, Plaintiff and her parents met with her Prairie View A&M coach to discuss the sexual assault. Plaintiff and her parents repeatedly asked the coach where the assailant was and whether he had been located. The coach told Plaintiff and her parents that he could not locate the assailant and that he had no information regarding his whereabouts. 14.   Upon information and belief, in March or April of 2015, Plaintiff’s coach was either terminated or resigned from his coaching position at Prairie View A&M. The coach told Plaintiff’s teammates and others at Prairie View A&M that Plaintiff was responsible for his termination or resignation. As a result, Plaintiff’s teammates retaliated against her, accused her of causing trouble, and blamed her for getting the coach fired. 15.   Prairie View A&M’s failure to adequately investigate and respond to Plaintiff’s sexual assault combined with the harassment and retaliation from Plaintiff’s coach and teammates, created a highly hostile educational environment for Plaintiff on a daily basis. Plaintiff endured significant emotional distress and attended counseling with a private counselor unaffiliated with Prairie View A&M. Case 4:18-cv-00399 Document 1 Filed in TXSD on 02/09/18 Page 4 of 10
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