Justice

University of Tennessee settles sexual-assault lawsuit with 8 women

Ayres Hall at the University of Tennessee (Wikimedia)

The University of Tennessee has settled a sexual-assault lawsuit brought by eight women, claiming that several of the school’s officials had behaved with “deliberate indifference” when reporting sexual assault by the school’s athletes. The $2.48 million settlement was reached just two days before the official response to the suit was supposed to arrive in federal court. Five of the plaintiffs claimed that they had been sexually assaulted by athletes, while another one claimed she had been subjected to victim blaming, and another woman reported being assaulted for refusing sex.

Of the six athletes named in the lawsuit, only two are currently facing rape charges, although both their trials are on hold. David Randolph Smith, the lawyer who represents the eight women announced the settlement, writing that they are “satisfied that, while universities everywhere struggle with these issues, the University of Tennessee has made significant progress in the way they educate and respond to sexual assault cases. My clients and I are also convinced that the university’s leadership is truly committed to continue its exemplary efforts to create a model as it relates to sexual misconduct.” The University’s Chancellor, Jimmy Cheek also released a statement saying, “Like many institutions we are not perfect, but our goal is to continue to be the best we can be at creating awareness, educating, and preventing discrimination and abuse in any form, and to continue to be equally prepared when it does happen and to deal with it promptly, sensitively, fairly and effectively. We’ve come a long way in recent years, and we are working every day to be even better. Our first priority is the safety and well-being of every member of our university community.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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