U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Court Dismisses Title IX Case Against Iowa State University

In what must ring out as a hollow victory for Iowa State University, a federal district court has dismissed a Title IX case alleging the institution took too long to investigate a sexual assault incident back in March 2014. The delay allegedly resulted in the student victim experiencing a deprivation of educational opportunity.

The University's issued the following statement:

While we are pleased with the court's ruling, our thoughts are primarily with Ms. Maher and other survivors of sexual assault. We are deeply saddened that Ms. Maher experienced this traumatic sexual assault and the devastating impact caused by the criminal conduct of a fellow student.

A Failing Grade

The university's statement fails to account for the fact that the sexual assault was not investigated for several months after it was reported. Additionally, after the incident, the university refused to relocate the aggressor, and offered subpar alternative living arrangements to the victim, despite living in close proximity to the aggressor. The sentiment expressed in the statement, while indeed better than bragging about the victory, does little to right the clear failure to investigate a sexual assault claim.

And it was not just the university that failed to promptly act; the aggressor was not arrested until January 2015. Then, it took until September 2016 for the criminal matter to be resolved via a plea that seems to allow the aggressor to avoid time behind bars (depending on what that 10 year "special sentence" truly involves).

Despite the university and police's failings, the district court found that the victim's allegations and factual support were insufficient to survive summary judgment. The court noted that the singular assault incident could not meet the pervasive requirement, and the aggressor proximity was not severe.

Related Resources: