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Former SIUE student sues college over its investigation of a sexual assault

A former Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville student is suing the college for its handling of her on-campus sexual assault claim while she was a senior in October 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A recent graduate of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is suing the school over the way it handled her allegation that another student sexually assaulted her.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Bailey Reed claims the university mismanaged the investigation, intimidated her and obstructed her access to a quality education. SIUE has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

St. Louis Public Radio is using Reed’s full name because she willingly identified herself in previous news coverage, which her attorney confirmed.

Reed, who graduated in May, said she was raped by a male student in her on-campus apartment in October 2017. The suit, which did not name the man, said the two exchanged flirtatious text and Snapchat messages, and he invited himself to her apartment.

Reed went to the hospital later that evening to be treated. Hospital staff examined her, collecting evidence of possible trauma and assault.

She said shortly after the alleged incident, a woman who Reed claims only identified herself as working for Call For Help, a crisis assistance organization, repeatedly encouraged her not to file a complaint with the police or university. Reed said she later learned the woman was an SIUE employee.

Reed did report the assault to university police and filed a complaint with the university Title XI office, which is tasked with investigating accusations.

No criminal charges have been filed.

The woman and the alleged assailant shared a class together. According to the lawsuit, she said SIUE officials encouraged her to attend class via Skype in order to avoid the alleged assailant. Reed protested and later secured her own protective order. The university then allowed Reed and the accused student to attend class on alternating days, the lawsuit said.

Reed’s attorney, Nicole Gorovsky, said the investigation into the rape allegation was discriminatory and took longer than is allowed under federal Title IX law.

In a statement, Gorovsky said the school violated Reed’s student rights, adding, “SIUE stole Reed’s ability to have an education free from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.”

The initial university investigation ruled against Reed in February, saying she had flirted with the student prior to the assault and her descriptions of the physical interactions were “difficult to envision.”

Investigators also wrote in their report that Reed’s perspective and timeline of the evening could not verified.

Reed told university investigators, however, she did not give consent to sex acts beyond kissing, rebuffing sexual advances and repeatedly telling the man no. The man she has accused told the university all sexual contact was consensual and that he was never told to stop.

Reed did win an appeal of that decision to a Title IX panel. But in May, Chancellor Randy Pembrook overturned the appeal, again finding against Reed and clearing the student she accused of wrongdoing. The Board of Trustees declined to hear the case.

SIUE’s legal counsel has not had an opportunity to fully review the lawsuit, university spokesman Doug McIlhagga said, adding the university typically does not comment on pending legal matters.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reprimanded SIUE in August 2017, two months before Reed’s alleged assault, for not fully investigating a charge of sexual assault made by a student against a professor.

Editor's note: The legal complaint, Reed versus SIUE, and university investigator's report, embedded below, contain descriptions of sexual assault as well as vulgar language.



Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney

Ryan was an education reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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