A lawsuit filed today in federal court accuses the University of Tulsa of failing to protect one of its students, Abigail Ross, from one of its basketball players, Patrick Swilling, Jr., who had a history of sexual assault allegations against him.
This lawsuit stems from a charge Ross made against Swilling back in January, accusing him of rape. Charges were not filed in that case.
This is a Title IX lawsuit, which is a federal gender equity law. Part of that law says how universities must investigate charges of sexual assault or violence. In a statement released to Tulsa's Channel 8 by University President Stedman Upham, TU stands by its Title IX practices:
"The safety of University of Tulsa students, faculty and staff is our top priority at all times. The university has a robust policy to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault in a thorough and deliberate manner.
Although this legal filing has been widely distributed to media outlets, the lawsuit has not been served on the university. As such, we have not yet been able to thoroughly review the lawsuit; but, from media reports, it appears misinformation already is developing regarding our handling of this matter.
This process was carried out fully and completely in the case in question, including communicating the official policy to all parties involved. As soon as the incident was reported, university administrators immediately began the investigation process.
We conducted our investigation in a fair and timely manner, cooperating fully with local law enforcement.
TU's policy on sexual violence is far-reaching; and although investigation is a critical component, our plan to protect our students extends well beyond. This policy includes a proactive approach to ensuring student safety, which is reviewed and updated annually, if not more frequently. During the previous academic year, the university has taken steps to further protect students, including limiting access to campus, implementing a Rape Aggression Defense program and coordinating an initiative called iStand to fight sexual violence.
TU's policy on sexual violence was developed using recommendations from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Leading this effort was our Dean of Students assisted by university legal counsel, the Title IX coordinator and members of TU's Sexual Violence Prevention and Educational Programming Committee (commonly referred to as the Advocacy Alliance), which is comprised of faculty, staff and students from the following departments: Student Affairs, Counseling Services, Campus Security, Athletics, Psychology (including the Institute for Trauma, Adversity and Injustice), and Housing and Residential Life.
As TU welcomes its freshman class, these students will learn what other TU students and alumni already know, which is their safety and well-being is and remains our foremost priority."
We'll have more on this story here on ktul.com and on Tulsa's Channel 8 Sports.