A student who withdrew from Southern Arkansas University has settled her Title IX lawsuit against the university without the school admitting any wrongdoing.
In a December 2018 lawsuit, the former SAU student claimed that the university in Magnolia acted with "deliberate indifference" when she reported a sexual assault in 2015. The lawsuit alleged there was a "lack of training, supervision, and the failure to implement policies to prevent and thereafter properly respond" to campus sexual assaults.
The student will receive $55,000 under terms of the settlement agreement. The university's insurance company will issue the check, the document states, according to a copy released to the Democrat-Gazette under the state's public disclosure law.
The student and Southern Arkansas University on Thursday filed for joint dismissal of the case in U.S. District Court in Texarkana.
In a statement, SAU spokeswoman Caleigh Moyer said the university "admits no fault in this case and believes the incident was handled in a very fair and caring manner to the complainant and in compliance with Title IX."
Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools that receive federal money. Authorities have said schools under Title IX are expected to respond to reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
As part of the agreement, the university has agreed to "publish an article in 2020 in its student newspaper regarding Title IX." Moyer, in an email, said the forthcoming newspaper article will "provide general information about Title IX and about the resources and specifics of processes at SAU with reference to the SAU Webpage and contact information."
Up to $5,000 in documented legal expenses will also be paid by SAU's insurance to the former student's attorney, the agreement states.
"The plaintiff is happy that we resolved the issues," said George Rozzell, the attorney for the former SAU student.
Also, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has dismissed a complaint regarding SAU's response to sexual violence and alleged retaliation, according to a letter to SAU President Trey Berry.
The letter dated Monday -- released under the state's public disclosure law -- states that federal authorities were informed "that the complainant entered into a settlement agreement with the University and asked that the Office for Civil Rights close its investigation of this complaint."
Moyer confirmed that the complaint filed with federal authorities was from the same student who had filed the lawsuit.
The former student alleged in the lawsuit that in December 2015 she was forcibly groped by a student and later came to believe that he and another student -- with whom she had been having a consensual sexual encounter -- conspired for the assault.
She claimed in the lawsuit that an SAU official later told her his "inclination" was to suspend one of the students for one year, but that she was not informed of this in writing.
Only after she transferred schools and got legal assistance in 2016 did SAU "commit to 'reinvestigating'" her sexual assault complaint, the lawsuit alleged.
Metro on 01/11/2020
Print Headline: SAU, ex-student settle Title IX lawsuit