Motion to dismiss part of Title IX case denied

By Dylan Lysen

A federal judge dismissed on Wednesday a part of a Title IX lawsuit filed against K-State regarding K-State students who were raped off campus, but she will allow a key point of the suit to continue.

The court dismissed the claims of one former student because the incident in her case occurred at a private apartment complex.

But the court said two other plaintiffs “plausibly alleged that KSU had substantial control over the alleged assailants and the context of the assaults” and denied K-State’s motion to dismiss a portion of the lawsuit dealing with off-campus fraternity houses.

“The court simply finds that plaintiff has presented plausible allegations in this case that KSU had substantial control over the fraternity (a KSU student organization) and the alleged assailants, thereby triggering a duty to adhere to the mandate of Title IX — that is, respond to plaintiff’s report of rape in a way that was not deliberately indifferent or ‘clearly unreasonable,’” Judge Julie Robinson wrote in her opinion.

Students Tessa Farmer and Sarah Weckhorst filed a lawsuit against the university in 2016 alleging the university did not investigate when they reported they were raped at off-campus fraternities. The former students argued the law requires K-State to perform those investigations. A third former student, Crystal Stroup, joined the lawsuit to assert a similar claim against K-State.

K-State said Thursday that Robinson confirmed the university’s responsibility to investigate sexual assaults affecting students when they occur in the university’s programs and activities but are not required to do so when they occur in private settings, like the case involving Stroup.

Weckhorst alleges K-State had substantial control over fraternities and their off-cam pus fraternity houses to consider them part of K-State’s programs and activities. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at institutions that receive federal financial aid. K-State has argued related laws requiring the university to investigate sexual assaults don’t apply when those assaults happen off campus. K-State officials said that portion of the case is only continuing to the “discovery phase” because of a procedure that requires the court to treat the plain tiffs claims’ as fact, and K-State believes the
evidence of the case will show the university does not have “sufficient control” of off-campus fraternities.

“In the discovery phase, K-State will have the ability to disprove those allegations through evidence, such as documents and testimony,” university spokesman Steve Log back said.

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