Lawsuit: Coach helps student athlete leave town amid sexual assault accusation

After a fellow student athlete sexually assaulted her, a Prairie View A&M University student had the impression her coach had no idea where her assailant was. But the coach had actually bought him a plane ticket so he could avoid arrest and disciplinary action, according to a complaint filed in Houston’s federal court on Friday.

According to the lawsuit, Texas’ Prairie View A&M failed to appropriately investigate the sexual assault of a woman identified with the pseudonym Mary Doe. The university, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, also did not conduct related disciplinary hearings, court records said.

In the spring semester of 2015, Doe reported to campus police that she had been sexually assaulted in her on-campus apartment. A day after the assault, university police took her to a hospital for a sexual assault exam. Doe’s coach met her at the hospital to tell her that she didn’t need to tell her parents what had happened, the complaint said.

The next day, Doe and her parents met with the coach, who is not identified in the lawsuit, and attempted to learn where the perpetrator was. The coach told them that he couldn’t find the male student and didn’t know where he was.

Doe didn’t learn until about a year after her assault that her coach had purchased an out-of-state plane ticket for the male student to help him get out of potential disciplinary action and arrest, court records claim. The lawsuit claims the alleged assailant, who also isn’t identified, has been indicted on sexual assault charges.

A few months after the sexual assault took place, the lawsuit said that the coach either was terminated or resigned from his position at Prairie View A&M University. He told her athletics team that Doe was to blame for his departure, which the complaint alleges created a hostile educational environment.

In its most recent crime report, Prairie View A&M reported three on-campus rapes in 2016, down from six the year before, when Doe’s alleged assault took place.

Last year, the Education Department issued a Title IX guidance that allows universities to create their own standards when it comes to sexual misconduct findings. The guidance also permits colleges to make an appeals process available for disciplinary actions.

Contact Mollie Bryant at 405-990-0988 or Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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