Twelve women are suing Liberty University, claiming that the school has a pattern of mishandling cases of sexual assault and harassment. The women’s attorney says the University’s honor code, which doesn’t allow alcohol use, made it difficult or impossible for them to report violations if they had been drinking, and it says the university retaliated against women who did make such reports. In addition, one woman claims in 2000 when she was 15 years old, Jesse Mathew Jr. tried to assault her at a Liberty summer camp. She claims campus police did not believe her story. Matthew was later convicted of murdering two women. The women want a jury trial. Liberty said in a statement that the allegations were “deeply troubling” and pledged to investigate each of them.
Here is Liberty’s response to the lawsuit:
The allegations in the Jane Doe 1-12 v. Liberty University lawsuit are deeply troubling, if they turn out to be true. Many of the claims are the complete opposite of how the University’s policies and procedures were designed to operate over the years. Liberty has invested mightily in programs and personnel to help maintain a safe campus and to support any and all victims of sexual assault who came forward. Liberty has a robust non-discrimination policy, which includes an amnesty policy to encourage victims to make reports without fearing that their involvement in other activities like drinking alcohol or extramarital sex will be disciplined under the student honor code. That policy includes a fair process for resolving disputes about rape, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation, as well as providing supportive measures as appropriate. It would be heartbreaking if those efforts had the results claimed in this lawsuit. We will immediately look into each of these claims to determine what needs to be done to make things right, if they turn out to be true. Because the claims are made anonymously and go back many years, in one case over two decades, it will take some time to sort through.