Former student’s lawsuit against TCU postponed

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    The trial stemming from the lawsuit filed by a former student against the university for its alleged actions before and after a 2006 sexual assault case, originally set for Monday, has been postponed, according to a university defense attorney.

    The attorney, Jennifer Littman, wrote in an e-mail that the law firm representing the university was notified yesterday afternoon that the trial had been reset. Calls and e-mails to clarify whether individuals associated with the university named in the suit are still being held personally liable were not immediately returned.

    The trial was set to address the personal injury lawsuit filed against the university by a former student, identified as K.S., for negligence on behalf of the university and its staff. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was drugged and raped by two former basketball players, Shannon Monroe Behling and Virgil Allen Taylor, and former football player, Lorenzo Labell Jones, in Oct. 2006.

    Defense Attorney Gwinda Burns, who is representing Taylor, did not immediately respond to calls. At the time of publication, it was not immediately clear who was representing Behling and Jones.

    Plaintiff Attorney Todd Kelly said that K.S. requested a motion to transfer venues because of the university’s reputation in Fort Worth.

    “We felt like our client would have a better chance at justice…at some place other than Fort Worth, Texas,” Kelly said.

    Cydney Grubb, coordinator of the 141st District Court in Tarrant County, said that as of yesterday the trial would still take place in the same district, but a new date had not been set.

    According to the plaintiff’s original petition, the university did not take the precautionary measures to prevent the alleged assault, including “knowingly and/or negligently recruiting athletes with known histories of sexual misconduct and criminal misbehavior.”

    “This lawsuit highlights the fact that sometimes administrators of schools put their athletic departments and the success of their athletic departments ahead of the safety of their students,” Kelly said.

    Littman wrote that the alleged sexual assault was due to the actions of three former students, not the university.

    “TCU’s response to the incident once it was reported was immediate, cooperative, forthcoming and consistent with the best practices used by universities to address the sexual assault of a student,” Littman wrote.

    Kelly said the alleged assailants had a history of violence and assault before being admitted to the university as recruited athletes.

    “And yet, they put them in a situation where they were able to drug and rape my client,” Kelly said.

    According to Littman’s e-mail, the university took prompt disciplinary action as soon as the sexual assault was reported by notifying the police and immediately removing the students accused of the assault from the university and eventually permanently separating them from the university.

    The university also provided emotional support and assistance through its Victim Advocate Program, Littman wrote.

    The goal of the TCU Victim Advocate Program is to assist the individual in the recovery process by providing confidential support and timely information, according to the TCU Victim Advocate Program website. The program provides campus and community resources for students and faculty affected by crime including the TCU and Fort Worth Police Departments, Rape Crisis Center & Victim Services and the TCU Counseling Center.