Liberty University recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by 12 women over claims the school mishandled their assault cases.
A settlement was reached earlier this week between twelve women and Liberty University. The suit was originally filed over accusations that the Christian school fostered an “unsafe environment on its Virginia campus and mishandled cases of sexual assault and harassment.” Jack Larkin, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, filed a notice of dismissal and said the case had been settled, though no details of the settlement have been revealed. He said:
“While there are large provisions that the plaintiffs will continue to be able to talk about, there is no non-disclosure agreement that would prevent them from telling their stories in the future, but the terms of the settlement itself and the conduct of the mediation are both confidential.”
This isn’t the first lawsuit to be filed against the Lynchburg school in recent years. Other lawsuits were filed over similar allegations and the U.S. Department of Education is “reviewing its compliance with the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to maintain and disclose crime statistics and security information.”
The lawsuit that was recently settled was originally filed in federal court in New York and included numerous allegations under Title IX. Title IX is a federal law designed to protect students and employees from sex discrimination in an education setting, including institutions like Liberty University. Among the allegations include claims that “Liberty’s strict honor code makes it difficult or impossible for students to report sexual violence.” Additionally, the suit said the school “had a tacit policy of weighting investigations in favor of accused male students, and it said the university retaliated against women who did make such reports.”
The plaintiffs include former female students and employees who filed the suit anonymously. In the court documents, they were referred to as Jane Doe 1-12 and the allegations are spread out over more than two decades. Some of the plaintiffs claimed they were raped or sexually harassed and had their cases “mishandled or effectively ignored.” One plaintiff even claimed she was discriminated against for being pregnant.
When commenting on the lawsuit, Jane Doe 2 said,
“It just boggles my mind that these people who claim to be Christians cared more about covering it up than they cared about actually helping me.”
In response to the allegations, officials for the school said the claims were “deeply troubling” and “pledged to make things right if the claims turned out to be true.”
In February 2022, a status report was filed. According to that report, if the lawsuit was not resolved “amicably, an amended complaint would be filed adding new plaintiffs, including a current student.”