VMI Accused of Hindering Sexual Assault Probe Involving High School Visitor in New Federal Lawsuit
Written by: Sam Orlando
Allegations of Misconduct and Institutional Indifference Raise Questions About VMI's Commitment to Title IX
LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA — Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is facing legal scrutiny after a recruited prospective student, referred to as Jane Doe because she is under 18 years of age, filed a lawsuit alleging that the institution failed to adhere to Title IX procedures in response to her sexual assault and harassment complaint. The suit accuses VMI of a range of procedural lapses and indifference that ultimately robbed Jane Doe of her legal rights and subjected her to an unsafe environment.
Pressured to Stay on Campus
Visiting the campus as a prospective student, the lawsuit claims Doe was "encouraged" to stay overnight during a campus program. During that overnight stay, the lawsuit claims Jane Doe was sexually assaulted by the student placed in charge of her housing for the night.
The Incidents and the Lawsuit
According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe and her parents were kept in the dark regarding the investigation of the incidents she reported. Despite several attempts to get information, the family alleges they were never informed about the actions taken by VMI to address the issue or ensure campus safety. Superintendent Wins of VMI allegedly told the family that the claims were unfounded but did not share any evidence or details from the investigation.
The suit alleges that not only did VMI fail to handle Jane Doe's complaint adequately, but the institution also violated several federal regulations related to Title IX. The lawsuit states that "at no time were Jane Doe or her parents advised of their right to an attorney," and they were not provided any written statements or evidence collected during the investigation.
An Environment of Deliberate Indifference
The suit contends that VMI showed "deliberate indifference" towards campus safety and Title IX protections, which contributed to the creation of a dangerous environment. The claim suggests that had VMI not been indifferent, the assault on Jane Doe would not have occurred.
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that VMI's Title IX training is inadequate and perpetuates an environment that does not adequately protect students from sexual assault and harassment.
The Alleged Procedural Missteps
According to federal regulations, institutions are obligated to provide "supportive measures" to complainants during Title IX investigations. The lawsuit alleges that VMI failed to fulfill this and numerous other obligations. Not only were there allegations of lack of information sharing, but the suit also points out that Jane Doe was not informed of the timeframes at any stage of the investigation.
Public Interest and Potential Consequences
This case raises significant questions about the effectiveness and sincerity of VMI's commitment to Title IX protocols, with potential implications for how educational institutions are held accountable for maintaining safe and equitable environments for all students.
If the court rules in favor of Jane Doe, this could serve as a precedent for similar cases, forcing educational institutions to be more stringent in adhering to Title IX guidelines.
Breaking Through reached out to Col. Bill Wyatt, VMI's media spokesperson, who provided the following response to our request for comments about the lawsuit:
"VMI does not publicly discuss pending litigation. VMI’s General Order 16 governs the school’s compliance with Title IX. The general order is reviewed at least annually (more frequently when if compliance with changes to federal law/guidance requires)."
Stay tuned to Breaking Through News as we will continue to cover future filings in this case.