UPDATE 10:25 a.m. (5/12/22): One day after Liberty University settled with 12 Jane Does and eight unfiled claimants who accused the school of creating an environment that increases the likelihood of sexual assault, the university shared a statement about the lawsuit with WFXR News.
Liberty University president Jerry Prevo made it clear when the Jane Does filed their lawsuit that, despite certain claims being potentially outside of the statute of limitations, the university was committed to doing what it could to “make things right” with the plaintiffs represented by attorney Jack Larkin.
Liberty University can confirm that the institution reached settlement agreements with all the Jane Doe plaintiffs, as well as all but two of the additional Jane Does that attorney Larkin represented. As a result, Mr. Larkin dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit that he had previously filed on the Jane Does’ behalf.
The University can also share that, before attempting to settle, it has already undertaken various initiatives over many months, under the direction of President Prevo and the Board of Trustees.
Some of these initiatives include over $8.5 Million in security upgrades, including the installation of security cameras, blue light boxes, and enhanced campus lighting, along with the launching of a cell phone app for emergency reporting.
The university also launched reviews of, and elected to further enhance, many of its existing policies. Its ongoing review of the campus Title IX department will result in further strengthening of its policies and procedures, including additional mandatory training for students and employees. There will also be changes to Liberty’s amnesty policy. The existing policy is now being revised to better communicate — with respect to reports of sexual harassment and/or assault— that Liberty does not discipline parties who engage in behaviors, in connection with that sexual harassment and/or assault, that would have otherwise violated its student honor code.
Liberty also intends to add additional lactation rooms to better support mothers who are members of the University community, and to improve community awareness of accommodations available to those who are pregnant and/or parenting. In addition to Liberty making donations to community sexual assault response programs, the university is also reviewing its own student counseling services to ensure that there are more services available to the community by licensed mental health providers, including in rapid response scenarios resulting from sexual assault.
Again, the University hopes that the many measures that it undertook prior to the settlement also convey the sincerity and seriousness by which Liberty University is approaching these concerns under the direction of President Prevo and the university’s Board of Trustees.Statement released on May 12, 2022 by Liberty University
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Last summer, a multi-plaintiff lawsuit was filed against Liberty University on behalf of 12 Jane Does who accused the school of creating an environment that increases the likelihood of sexual assault. Now, the university has settled with the 12 Jane Does, as well as eight unfiled claimants.
According to the lawsuit — which was filed on July 20, 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of a dozen Jane Does from across the country — the university created an unsafe campus environment in the following three ways:
- The creation and weaponization of “the Liberty Way,” a student honor code which makes it either difficult or impossible for students to report sexual violence.
- The promotion of a widely-observed policy that condoned sexual violence, especially by male student athletes.
- The public and repeated retaliation against women who reported being victims of sexual violence.
The documents from July 2021 said that the Jane Does were requesting a jury trial, asking “that this Court award JUDGMENT in their favor and against Liberty University in an amount to be determined at trial, together with attorneys’ fees and such additional amounts as this Court deems just.”
However, on Wednesday, May 11, the attorney for the 12 Jane Does and eight unfiled claimants filed a notice of dismissal with the court, saying the case had been settled, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
This news comes shortly after the Department of Education launched a federal Title IX investigation into Liberty University due to claims of mishandled sexual assault cases.
WFXR News reached out to the Jane Does’ lawyer, who says the settlement speaks for itself. We also contacted Liberty University about this development, but they have yet to respond.
You can check out WFXR News’ previous coverage of the lawsuits against Liberty University below:
- JULY 2021: Rape survivor hopes lawsuit against Liberty University will help protect other women
- JULY 2021: Lynchburg area women react to claims of sexual assault against Liberty University
- JULY 2021: Convicted murderer Jesse Matthew Jr. named in Liberty University lawsuit
- OCTOBER 2021: 22 complaints now reported in lawsuit accusing Liberty University of creating unsafe campus environment
- OCTOBER 2021: Liberty responds to lawsuit about university’s ‘mishandling of Title IX sexual misconduct accusations’
- NOVEMBER 2021: “We are in the process of installing blue boxes,” Prevo says during convocation at Liberty University
- NOVEMBER 2021: Liberty University’s Board of Trustees approves third-party independent investigation of alleged sexual assaults
- NOVEMBER 2021: Liberty University files counterclaim to suit filed by former employee alleging ‘mishandling of Title IX sexual misconduct accusations’
- NOVEMBER 2021: Sens. Kaine, Warner call for federal investigation into Liberty University amid claims of mishandled sexual assault cases
- NOVEMBER 2021: Woman accuses former Liberty student of date rape; university of failing to ‘address, deter, or punish sexual assault’ in lawsuit
- APRIL 2022: After suing over date rape, Liberty student faces $1.3M defamation claim
- APRIL 2022: Another Jane Doe sues Liberty University, claims rape, sexual assault ignored
- APRIL 2022: Jane Doe’s lawyer: Latest lawsuit against Liberty University shows ‘institution-wide problems’
- APRIL 2022: Sen. Kaine, Roanoke attorney discuss Title IX amid Liberty University lawsuits
- APRIL 2022: DOE investigating Liberty University amid claims of mishandled sexual assault cases
- MAY 2022: What does a federal Title IX investigation mean for Liberty University?
This is a developing story.