New Lawsuit Accuses Liberty U of Retaliating Against Rape Victim

By Sarah Einselen
Liberty University Standing for Freedom Center
Founded in 1971, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. is one of the nation's largest Christian universities (Photo: Flickr / Taber Bain)

A former Liberty University student alleges in a new lawsuit that the institution “demonstrated systematic deliberate indifference” and “perpetuated a sexually hostile and dangerous environment on and around campus” after she reported being raped by a fellow student last year.

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, states the woman “was brutally raped” in April 2021 when a drunken student followed her into her room at an off-campus housing complex for Liberty students.

The suit is in addition to a class-action lawsuit 22 women have brought against Liberty, alleging it created a campus environment “enabling on-campus rapes.” That suit is in mediation, court filings show.

Another suit filed last November alleges Liberty tried to sweep a woman’s rape under the rug.

Like those two suits, this one alleges that Liberty habitually weaponizes “The Liberty Way”—the university’s honor code for student conduct—against sexual assault victims.

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Officials do so by leading students to fear that if they report an assault, they will be disciplined for related honor code violations, according to the suit.

“Liberty’s well-publicized culture, pattern, and practice concerning reports of sexual assault . . . has created an environment where students are less likely to come forward with reports of sexual assault for fear of retaliation and the strict enforcement of the Liberty Way,” the suit alleges.

It also states Liberty’s harmful culture means “perpetrators of sexual violence are routinely not punished or held accountable, creating a dangerous and hostile environment.” The suit also alleges that reports of sexual assault “are routinely ignored and cast aside, and . . . accommodations and assistance for victims is withheld or otherwise not made available.”

It adds, “Liberty has created a dangerous and hostile environment that makes its female students more vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.”

U.S. Senators have previously called on the U.S. Department of Education to investigate Liberty’s handling of sex assault reports. Such an investigation is apparently underway.

Legal counsel and a Liberty spokesman did not immediately respond when The Roys Report (TRR) reached out for comment on the new lawsuit. A university statement issued to local TV station WSET indicated the university hadn’t looked at the lawsuit yet and therefore declined to comment.

Brutally raped in her own room

The woman bringing the lawsuit and her assailant, another student, were both at a pool party at the woman’s housing complex last April, the suit says. It adds that the assailant and many others got drunk.

TRR is not naming the assailant because he has not been charged with a crime in connection with the assault. The suit states a criminal investigation is open.

While the pool party was going on outside, the other student followed the woman into her room when she went inside to change. He locked the door and sexually assaulted her despite her repeated pleas to stop.

The woman “desperately tried to get away” including trying to climb out the window, but he “grabbed her and pulled her back into the room,” according to the suit.

She was raped repeatedly and choked when she tried to cry out, the suit says. The attack stopped only when friends found out what was going on. They helped her get out and hide in the parking lot, according to the suit.

Within hours, the woman filed a police report with the county sheriff’s office and had a rape kit done, the suit says.

But after Liberty’s Title IX office was informed of the rape, the suit alleges the university did nothing to ensure the woman’s safety or help her deal with the effects on her academics.

‘A months-long effort . . . to harass, intimidate and retaliate’

First, a Title IX investigator failed to meet with the former student and did nothing to keep the assailant from contacting or approaching her, the suit alleges.

The woman also asked for academic accommodations for the rest of her junior year, but received none, according to the suit. She was put on academic probation after her grades slipped following the rape.

Then a Liberty official emailed the former student less than a month later about the woman’s “alleged involvement with substances as a Liberty student.”

That’s despite Liberty policy which states a student won’t be disciplined for some student conduct violations if they are making a Title IX report.

The email began what the suit describes as “a months-long effort by Liberty to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against” the woman.

In a subsequent meeting, Liberty officials questioned the woman about whether she was drinking alcohol the day she was raped. They demanded she submit first to one drug test, then another, according to the suit.

The woman was disciplined for being at a party where alcohol was involved, the suit states.

And according to the suit, she was told she would have to meet face to face with her assailant and be questioned by his advisor if she wanted Liberty to investigate the matter.

The woman asked Liberty representatives last summer for a no-contact directive against her assailant, according to the suit. But she was reportedly told the other student would “have the right to go to all of the buildings and things that he wants to go to” even with such a directive in place, and might also be able to walk by her without violating it.

The assailant remained a student at Liberty and was even assigned to the same housing complex as the woman for the fall 2021 semester. (The woman asked to be reassigned.)

In the meantime, the woman tried to complete her fall classes. But she couldn’t get her grades back up because of her trauma and the university’s “indifferent, retaliatory, and discriminatory” response to her rape, the suit states.

She was suspended at the end of the fall 2021 semester and was told she wouldn’t be allowed back for this year’s spring semester, according to the suit.

She was then forced to withdraw early this year and transfer to a different university to finish her degree.

Ultimately, Liberty “took no measures to ensure” the assailant was held accountable for raping the woman, according to the suit.

“Liberty’s retaliatory conduct would dissuade a reasonable person from making or supporting a charge of sexual harassment,” the suit alleges.

It goes on to state that its response to the woman’s report of sexual assault caused her “to suffer academically” and led to “severe, persistent, and permanent” physical, emotional, and monetary damage.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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9 thoughts on “New Lawsuit Accuses Liberty U of Retaliating Against Rape Victim”

  1. Absolutely Horrifying ! It sounds more like the university is more of a Satanic Cult !!

    Of course Falwell pretty much took care of this institutions image !

    I feel for these women .. What a branded memory of something that should be a monumental experience!

  2. Sounds like how MacArthur deals with rape victims at The Master University.

    Jane Doe was told to go to the police and drop the charges or she would be disciplined for drinking and “almost dancing.”

  3. Kevin Benedict

    This is pretty damning stuff. If they get away with this then the court system is also culpable.

    The irony of the phrase “The Liberty Way”…this is not the liberty of Christ. It is satanic.

    This is the liberty of Christ:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  4. The Spirit of Falwell lives on. A brood of greedy vipers are there. Anyone wise will stay clear of this cesspool. This is not who Jesus is so there is nothing at all Christian about this school. This is a school where the Devil’s ways are practiced all whitewashed with perfume to try to cover up the stench. Men who would just as readily kill Jesus Christ as the Pharisees of old.

  5. Visible Music college Memphis TN. Student reports being raped. College kicks her off campus and the school officials accused her of premarital sex. PEOPLE, are you seeing a pattern here? These ‘Christian” colleges do not want a record of any rapes. WHY YOU ASK. So, mommy and daddy can see that the campus is as safe as their own living room. And what’s with the “Christian men” that do nothing. Wow, please stop referring yourself as Christian or men. What is with you CHRISTIAN MEN and wanting to protect these poster children for evil. JM and Liberty and Visible Music and I am sure this is a pattern in many alleged “Christian” environments. I bet the local bar full of drunks are more protective of women then these “Christian institutions”. And I am sure that this college called “Visible” is run by the same smug self-righteous cowards that run other “Christian” institutions. Don’t believe me? then read Julie Roy or Christian post for about one month and try to prove me wrong. I am so tired of seeing men who should be the examples to follow as men, being the worst of the worst of men. What’s worse a rapist or someone who protects and makes excuses for a rapist.

  6. The season about Liberty University on the podcast Gangster Capitalism gives much more context and insight into this political, money and power hungry machine.

  7. Rape is a crime, not an in-house grievance to be resolved through a “Matthew 18” process. The victim should go to the police, not to the Liberty University officials. Laws against violent crime aren’t exempt inside the campus boundaries.

    1. Karl Paulsen

      Ted,
      It appears the victim did make a police report, but when she then reported it to the school where she and the perpetrator attend they did to the opposite of accommodating and protecting her. Instead taking repeated steps to disregard her situation and actively push her out. Not really surprising since this doing what you can to drive the victim out seems to be the playbook for Liberty University.

      I hope she gets every penny she’s asking for and then some

      1. Thanks, Karl. And I should have said, “Laws against violent crime aren’t supposed to be exempt inside campus boundaries.”

        It also depends upon how much the Lynchburg police defer to the Liberty authorities and security. Always an uphill struggle for women.

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