JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Two women claim the University of Missouri's Title IX office mishandled their sexual assault and stalking allegations against former basketball player Terrence Phillips.
The federal lawsuit from Jane Does 1 and 2 accuse university officials of not properly following their own rules. That includes a failure to fully investigate a claim that Phillips raped a woman in 2017.
A Title IX panel ruled on several cases involving Phillips in 2018, finding him not responsible for many of the claims, including the rape. The panel did say he violated school rules when he sent a picture of his genitalia to one of the women involved in the new lawsuit.. Phillips was off the MU basketball team in February 2018, his junior year, while the cases were being investigated.
St. Louis attorneys Gerard Carmody, Ryann Carmody and Candace Johnson called for Western District Court Judge Willie Epps to award the two women punitive and compensatory damages, as well as require MU to make several changes to its Title IX investigative procedures.
MU spokesman Christian Basi told ABC 17 News the school had just learned about the lawsuit on Tuesday and did not have a comment.
A female student referred to as "Jane Doe 1" met Phillips in April 2017 at 10 Below, a downtown bar where she worked. After exchanging numbers that night, Phillips began to send her long texts, including a picture of his genitals. She tried to cut off communication, the lawsuit claims, but Phillips kept trying to talk to her.
"In a last-ditch effort, Doe 1 approached his teammates and asked them to talk to Phillips to get him to leave her alone," the lawsuit said. "Surprisingly, his teammates told her that they were aware of his behavior but that '[Phillips] is just like that with girls.'"
The woman went to Title IX authorities in September of that year, but did not want to name Phillips for fear of retaliation by him. Ross Brown, a Title IX investigator, told her a month later that they would open an investigation into Phillips after receiving more complaints.
"Instead, the Title IX Office chose to do nothing, letting Phillips continue to prey on other women," the lawsuit said. "In addition, the Title IX Office gave Doe 1 no support and little was communicated about the process and what to expect. The University also did not issue a No Contact directive against Phillips and did not put in place any remedial or protective measures."
The second woman, Jane Doe 2, said she and a friend met up with Phillips at Willie's Bar in December 2017, where Phillips was serving drinks. The lawsuit claims the drinks she was served, though, may have been "laced with drugs." The lawsuit claims that Phillips then raped her and sent Snapchat messages to her roommate asking for a threesome.
The woman filed a Title IX complaint the next week, but claims she heard little from the office in the months following. The lawsuit said the university also sent a "no contact" directive to Phillips a month after it should have.
In June 2018, the women learned the Title IX panel's decision. The group found Phillips not responsible for Doe 2's assault. A panel found Phillips responsible for sending the lewd picture to Doe 1, but not for stalking.
The lawsuit claims Doe 2's case file showed university officials did not follow up on several pieces of possible evidence.
"In fact, a panel member asked the University why they did not interview one of Doe 2’s key witnesses, her roommate," the lawsuit said. "The University representative responded: 'We were keeping it on a need to know basis and didn’t extend that any further than it needed to be.'"
Both women learned that they were not considered the "complainant" in the case. Instead, the university had started the investigation themselves, which the lawsuit said deprived both of them certain rights in the process. That includes the ability to appeal the panel's decision.