University settles sexual assault case for $50,000
CEDAR FALLS (AP) — A former University of Northern Iowa student who claimed administrators treated her poorly after she was sexually assaulted by football players in 2004 will receive $50,000 to drop her lawsuit, according to the terms of an agreement released Tuesday.
A state panel approved the settlement Monday with the Davenport woman, whose name is being withheld because the Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims. The deal ends a case that raised questions about UNI’s treatment of sexual assault victims and the legal tactics that state lawyers later used to try to discredit the woman’s claims.
“We felt it was in everyone’s best interest to settle this matter,” said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which was defending the university.
The woman’s attorney, Pressley Henningsen, said his client was pleased that the university had recently reviewed and vowed to improve its handling of sexual assault cases, which she had sought in her lawsuit. He said she recently got a nursing degree and “wants to put this behind her and move on.”
“It was hard for her, but I hope that this case helps educate schools out there that they need to be proactive in preventing situations like this from happening and helpful when an unfortunate situation like this arises,” he said.
The woman was an 18-year-old freshman in 2004 when she reported that Baylen Laury and Joseph Thomas III, who were freshmen players from Texas, took turns assaulting her in a dorm room. Thomas pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse. Laury eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after jurors deadlocked on more serious charges. Both served prison sentences.
The woman filed a lawsuit in 2007 in Scott County alleging that university administrators treated her with “great animosity” after the assault. She claimed they failed to make academic accommodations she requested, declined to let her move to another dorm and did nothing when she reported receiving harassing calls from players. After she quit school weeks later, the university sent her tuition bill to a collections agency and the dean of students told her she was disappointed “she didn’t tough it out,” according to the lawsuit.