RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit twelve girls introduced final summer season towards Liberty College, accusing the Christian establishment of fostering an unsafe setting on its Virginia campus and mishandling circumstances of sexual assault and harassment.
A discover of dismissal filed Wednesday by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jack Larkin, mentioned the case had been settled however offered no particulars concerning the phrases.
In a press release Thursday, Liberty mentioned a settlement had been reached with all of the plaintiffs and all however two extra girls Larkin represented. The college didn’t disclose the phrases of the settlement however outlined quite a lot of different modifications it has undertaken in current months to enhance campus safety and evaluate the way it responds to incidents of sexual harassment or violence.
“Liberty College president Jerry Prevo made it clear when the Jane Does filed their lawsuit that, regardless of sure claims being doubtlessly exterior of the statute of limitations, the college was dedicated to doing what it may to ‘make issues proper’ with the plaintiffs,” the assertion mentioned.
Larkin didn’t reply to a request for remark from The Related Press. However he advised TV station WDBJ the settlement phrases have been confidential.
The event comes because the outstanding evangelical college in Lynchburg faces continued scrutiny over its dealing with of intercourse assault circumstances. It’s facing different lawsuits that increase comparable allegations and not too long ago acknowledged to information shops that the U.S. Division of Schooling is reviewing its compliance with the federal Clery Act, which requires faculties and universities to take care of and disclose crime statistics and safety data.
In a press release, the division acknowledged the oversight work was ongoing however mentioned no additional remark can be offered till “the result formally has been communicated to the establishment.”
The not too long ago settled lawsuit was filed in federal court docket in New York and made varied claims below Title IX, the federal regulation that protects towards intercourse discrimination in training.
It alleged that Liberty’s strict honor code makes it “tough or unimaginable” for college students to report sexual violence. It mentioned the college had a “tacit coverage” of weighting investigations in favor of accused male college students, and it mentioned the college retaliated towards girls who did make such stories.
The ladies, former college students and staff, all filed go well with anonymously and have been recognized as Jane Doe 1-12. Their allegations spanned greater than twenty years.
Some plaintiffs within the lawsuit described being raped or sexually harassed and having their circumstances mishandled or successfully ignored. One girl alleged being pregnant discrimination.
A standing report filed within the case in February mentioned that if it was not resolved “amicably” an amended grievance can be filed including new plaintiffs, together with a present scholar.
In its assertion, Liberty mentioned it has spent over $8.5 million on campus safety upgrades, together with the set up of safety cameras, blue mild emergency name packing containers and enhanced lighting, together with a brand new cellphone app for emergency reporting.
Liberty mentioned it has made donations to group sexual assault response packages and is reviewing its counseling providers to make sure there are extra providers accessible from licensed psychological well being suppliers, “together with in fast response eventualities ensuing from sexual assault.”
The college can be revising its amnesty coverage to “higher talk” that it’ll not self-discipline events who have interaction in behaviors, in reference to a case of sexual harassment or assault “that might have in any other case violated its scholar honor code.”
Liberty has additionally been within the highlight not too long ago for its acrimonious split with former president and chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2020. Litigation between Falwell and the varsity is ongoing.