The father of a former University of Kansas rower who says she was raped by a football player in her dorm room revealed his daughter’s identity Thursday and with her joined a class action lawsuit against the university.
Jim McClure and his daughter Sarah McClure joined the suit filed in the District Court of Douglas County in April by the parents of another rower, Daisy Tackett.
In the class action suit, Amanda and James Tackett say the university violated the state’s consumer protection law by using “deceptive and false statements of safety” in reference to the campus and its dormitories when it recruited their daughter to the KU rowing team.
Last week, KU filed a motion to dismiss the Tackett case, saying that since the Tacketts are neither students nor parents of a current student, they are not consumers and have no standing to sue under the law.
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The Tacketts’ daughter also joined the class action suit Thursday.
In a statement Thursday, KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the university “takes very seriously any and all claims of sexual assault and sexual violence.”
She said federal law prohibits the university from releasing details on individual sexual assault investigations. But, Barcomb-Peterson said, the university “thoroughly investigated Ms. McClure’s allegations and as a result the accused student is no longer enrolled at KU. We are confident the courts will agree that we’ve met our obligations to both Ms. McClure and Ms. Tackett.”
Thursday’s action by the McClures links three suits filed within the last two months involving alleged sexual assaults in KU’s Jayhawker Towers by the same KU football player.
Jim McClure said he and his daughter have decided to be identified now because “we had to stand up and make KU take notice that something needs to change.”
He said his daughter, who is home in Wilmette, Ill., did not want to be identified before now because she was still in school and living in Jayhawker Towers, “full of football players,” and she feared retaliation.
McClure said his daughter has been “depressed and despondent” since the alleged assault. He said she was recruited by several colleges as a successful high school rower, and she chose KU in part because of a family legacy. She aspires to become a veterinarian.
“My grandfather is Keith C. Foster,” McClure said. “He graduated from KU in the 1930s. His name is inscribed in the (KU) bell tower for having died in World War II. Her coming to Kansas was like being able to connect with family.”
Sarah McClure, as Jane Doe 7, filed a lawsuit against KU in April, saying the university violated Title IX, the law prohibiting gender discrimination and protecting against sexual violence and harassment. It also says the school discriminated against her because of a disability. The now 19-year-old has an autoimmune disorder that affects her diet.
Her suit also says KU failed to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual assaults at Jayhawker Towers.
It additionally says the university failed to stop retaliation against her, from the football player and members of the rowing team’s coaching staff, after she reported the sexual assault.
The suit says McClure told a friend about the assault but did not tell the rowing team’s sports psychologist, Lawrence police or KU security until two months after the incident.
The football player, who is not being identified by The Star because he was never charged with a crime and was not identified in any of the three lawsuits, was also a resident of Jayhawker Towers.
The same player was accused of assaulting Daisy Tackett in the fall of 2014.
Tackett on March 2 sued the university, saying it violated Title IX, was slow to investigate her complaint of sexual assault, and failed to protect her from harassment and stalking by the player after she reported the incident to the university Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, which reviews claims of sexual assault and misconduct.
Last month, KU responded to that suit by saying the incident was not the university’s fault and the suit should be dismissed.
The football player was expelled from KU earlier this year, according to McClure’s lawsuit.
The player appeared in KU’s first seven games of 2015 but did not play in the last five, starting with an Oct. 31 game against Oklahoma.
Both women reported to KU they had been assaulted by the player. While McClure made a police report in late October, the Douglas County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the player after receiving that police report, determining the case was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger was asked by The Star whether the football player had been disciplined by the team. An athletic department representative replied that Zenger can’t comment about the matter.
In an April statement that Sarah McClure released as Jane Doe 7, she said that “after I reported my assault, everything KU did made me feel like they were trying to get me to crack and leave.” She said the university had made her feel “worthless.”
In a videotaped statement made available Thursday, McClure said she was so afraid after being assaulted that “I stayed in my room with a chair under the door knob.” She said she traveled from hotel to hotel because she was afraid to live in Jayhawker Towers.
At a news conference Thursday, McClure’s father said she is currently in therapy and trying to heal.
The class action lawsuit asks for an injunction against KU from asserting that its on-campus housing is safe. And it seeks “restitution … of tuition, fees, housing costs and other funds unjustly received by KU through use of deceptive acts and practices.”
Jim McClure said any money garnered from the lawsuit would go to protecting against sexual assault on college campuses.
“We can’t change what has happened, but we want to prevent this from happening to a lot of others.”
The Star’s Jesse Newell contributed to this report.