A former Texas Christian University student who says she was sexually assaulted by three student athletes in 2006 is now suing the school for allegedly failing to protect her from the attack and discouraging her from reporting the incident.
The young woman, identified in court papers only as K.S., claims a university sexual harassment officer encouraged her not to report what the lawsuit describes as a "brutal gang rape," allegedly saying it would be "'a lot easier for [her]' if she just kept quiet."
"They accepted these students to play sports, putting the safety of their other students aside," said K.S.'s lawyer, L. Todd Kelly. "Much like any other corporation, when you start putting your financial interest ahead of the safety of the people you're responsible for, you're going to get in trouble."
Through her lawyer, K.S. declined to be interviewed. Kelly said the alleged attack was psychologically devastating.
"She went from an outgoing young 18-year-old girl to a very shy and timid 20-year-old," he said. "She is still seeking psychological treatment and trying to go back to school, though it's been difficult. She tries to keep to herself as much as possible."
The university declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said in a written statement that it had permanently "separated" the three athletes from the school after the alleged attack.
"TCU's response to this incident was immediate, transparent and forthcoming. As soon as the assault was reported, TCU notified authorities and then informed campus members and parents," the statement said. "Further, the University provided emotional support and assistance to the student."
The three athletes, identified in the lawsuit as Virgil Allen Taylor, Lorenzo Labell Jones and Shannon Monroe Behling, were arrested after the October 2006 incident and charged with sexual assault. The charges were dropped earlier this year. Taylor and Behling were on the school basketball team; Jones played football.
Assistant Tarrant County District Attorney Sheila Wynn declined to say why the charges were dropped other than to say, "At that point in time, we felt it was the best thing to do."
The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be reopened if new evidence arises, though Wynn said she was not aware of anything that would lead her office to file new charges.
In the lawsuit, K.S. claims that Taylor lured her to his dormitory by promising to repay money he owed her. Once in the dorm, she was allegedly given a drugged sports drink, which caused her to lose consciousness.
The lawsuit claims the three men "forcibly raped her, one after the other, in a ritual that they later referred to as 'taking turns.'"
The lawsuit also claims that a university sexual harassment officer urged K.S. not to report the assault and covered up evidence of criminal behavior by student athletes.
It was not immediately clear if the three former athletes had attorneys in the civil case.
Jones declined to comment. His attorney in the criminal case, Marcus Norman, said Jones was not involved in the incident.
"These were college guys, they were friends. An incident was alleged to have occurred, and the charges were dismissed," he said. "Lorenzo never admitted any involvement. There was no physical evidence linking Lorenzo to anything. He wasn't involved."