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Lawsuit alleges Baylor University 'prioritized its reputation, athletics' after student reports being sexually assaulted by 2 football players in 2017

The lawsuit further alleges the two players recorded the crime and shared it with the entire freshman football roster.

WACO, Texas — A former student of Baylor University is suing the institution for over $157 million after she was sexually assaulted by two Baylor freshman football players in 2017, according to a civil lawsuit.

Opening statements are expected to start Thursday, according to the Houston Chronicle.

On Nov. 12, 2017, former student athlete Annie Andrews -- Andrews is not her real name, but a pseudonym to protect her identity -- was attending a late-night party at her apartment at University Parks Residence Hall, which is owned and controlled by the institution. She was reportedly incoherent and lying naked on her living room floor that night when she was sexually assaulted by two Baylor football players at the time, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit further alleges that the two players, identified as Tre'von Lewis and Justin Harris, recorded the crime on Snapchat and shared it with the entire freshman football roster.

The 53-page lawsuit, with a total of 17 counts against Baylor University, was filed in 2020. It argues that the school "prioritized its reputation and athletics over the safety and well-being of its students," despite having a known "historic rape problem" at one of its university-owned apartments.

In 2015, Baylor made headlines over a rape scandal. It was revealed that at least 17 victims came forward and claimed that 19 football players sexually assaulted them since 2011, the lawsuit says. Four of the reported rapes were gang rapes, the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit adds that most of those sexual assaults happened at University Parks, which housed Baylor's scholarship athletes like Andrews and its football players.

In light of the scandal, Baylor fired its president, athletics director and head football coach, as well as implemented various Title IX programs to help regain trust and ensure that its school is safe.

"But some things at Baylor still did not change," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit argues that the school knew of multiple reports of rape by Baylor football players, but failed to inform Andrews and other prospective students.

"Baylor failed to disclose that rape had been a problem at University Parks," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit argues that the school put Andrews and other students in danger by housing them at University Parks with the school's football team, as well as ignoring its rules and policies.

"Baylor then contributed to what was already a dangerous environment by failing to enforce its own rules on alcohol and late-night parties," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit also argues that Andrews reported her sexual assault, but Baylor Police (BUPD) failed to look into it.

"Rather than diligently pursuing Annie's criminal case as promised, the BUPD chose to protect Baylor and its football team by 'taking care of [the investigation] quietly for the football team members,' 'keep[ing the investigation] as quiet as possible,' and 'keep[ing the sexual assault] quiet,'" the lawsuit reads.

Baylor investigated through its confidential Title IX process and concluded 11 months later that "Arthur and Lewis had raped Annie and that defendant Justin Harris had sexually exploited Annie," the lawsuit reads.

By the time the findings came out, all involved were no longer Baylor students, the lawsuit says.

"The criminal investigation had predictably concluded without indictments of either Arthur or Lewis -- similar to how Baylor rape cases often conclude," the lawsuit reads.

Lori Fogleman, the assistant vice president of Media and Public Relations at Baylor, released the following statement on Tuesday regarding the case:

“It’s important to note that this is not a Title IX case, but one involving premises liability law in Texas. Baylor University is prepared to vigorously defend the significant safety measures in place on our campus at the time of the incident in November 2017, to include not only physical infrastructure enhancements, but also training, education and the implementation of more than 100 specific measures directed at preventing and responding to incidents of interpersonal violence. We take the safety and security of our 19,000 students seriously and look forward to sharing our unprecedented efforts with the court.”

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