WACO, Texas (AP) — A federal jury on Tuesday found Baylor University negligent in a Title IX lawsuit and awarded $270,000 to a former student who alleged she was physically abused by a football player in 2014 during a period of wide-ranging scandal at the nation’s biggest Baptist school.
In siding with former student Dolores Lozano, jurors in a Waco courtroom held that Baylor “maintained a policy of deliberate indifference to reports of sexual harassment” that put her at risk. The jury awarded her damages for negligence by Baylor but not for the Title IX violation.
The verdict comes a month after Baylor settled a separate, years-long federal lawsuit brought by 15 women who alleged they were sexually assaulted at the school. That was the largest case related to a scandal that ultimately led to the ouster of the university’s president and football coach Art Briles.
“It was never about the money, it was about justice,” Lozano said outside the courthouse after the verdict, according to the Waco Tribune Herald.
Lozano had also named Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw as defendants in the lawsuit. Both testified during the trial, but U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman last week dismissed them from the case, ruling no reasonable jury could find them negligent.
In a statement, Baylor said the verdict concludes all litigation against the school from 2015 and 2016, when the scandal erupted with assault allegations made against football players.
“We are obviously disappointed in the decision in this case, as we continue to contend that Baylor coaches and employees in Athletics and across the campus reported and handled these incidents in the correct, legally and clinically prescribed manner,” the statement read.
In the wake of the scandal, the school hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton to investigate how it handled those assaults and others. The law firm’s report determined that under the leadership of school President Ken Starr, Baylor did little to respond to accusations of sexual assault involving football players over several years.
It also raised broader questions of how the school responded to sexual assault claims across campus.
Lozano’s lawsuit faulted Baylor over its handling of her reports that she was assaulted three times in 2014 by then-running back Devin Chafin. He denied the accusations in a video deposition played during the trial last week, according to the Tribune-Herald.
Baylor officials have said the school has made sweeping changes to how it addresses sexual assault claims and victims in response to the Pepper Hamilton report. That report has never been fully released publicly, despite efforts by the women suing the school to force it into the open.
Briles has denied he covered up sexual violence in his program. He led the program to a Big 12 conference championship but has not returned to major-college coaching.