April 15, 2014 in City

Women sue Boise State University over sex assault response

Rebecca Boone Associated Press
 

BOISE – Two former Boise State University students are suing the school because, they say, athletic officials ignored their reports of sexual assault and harassment by a star athlete.

The women are represented by nationally known attorney Gloria Allred, who has handled similar lawsuits in several other states. They contend that multiple Boise State University athletic officials knew the athlete who abused them had a record of serially harassing and assaulting fellow students, and that the school’s failure to take action spurred the athlete to continue the behavior.

The lawsuit doesn’t identify the athlete the women say committed the assaults other than to call him a “men’s star track and field athlete.”

The university released a prepared statement Monday afternoon, saying the well-being of students is BSU’s first priority, and contending that officials didn’t learn of the women’s complaints until last year. The school says it then took immediate action.

“While we regret that the incidents ever occurred, the university believes its action in this case, given the information it had at the time, was swift, thorough and appropriate,” the statement read.

Both women were freshmen in 2011, recruited by BSU’s track and field coach, J.W. Hardy, and awarded scholarships.

The women say the school’s failure to act violated Title IX, the federal law designed to protect from sex discrimination in educational activities.

BSU officials said they received an anonymous complaint on March 6, 2013, that university officials failed to act on allegations of sexual assault by a student athlete. “As a result of that allegation, the university suspended its head track and field coach from his duties on March 26, 2013,” the statement read. The coach was later fired and the alleged perpetrator was kicked off the track team and indefinitely suspended from the university.

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