Former KU rower files sexual assault lawsuit against the university

Daisy Tackett's father reads his daughter's statement on the sexual assault lawsuit against KU

Former KU rower Daisy Tackett filed a lawsuit on March 21, 2016 against the University of Kansas alleging she was sexually assaulted in a dormitory by a KU football player. Tackett filed the suit in Douglas County for alleged violations of Title I
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Former KU rower Daisy Tackett filed a lawsuit on March 21, 2016 against the University of Kansas alleging she was sexually assaulted in a dormitory by a KU football player. Tackett filed the suit in Douglas County for alleged violations of Title I

A former University of Kansas athlete sued the university Monday, alleging that she was raped in a dormitory by a KU football player and that the university failed to protect her before and after the alleged attack.

Daisy Tackett, a former member of the KU rowing team, filed the suit in Douglas County, Kan., for violations of Title IX, the federal law that protects against gender discrimination including sexual assault and harassment.

Earlier this month, Tackett’s parents sued the university under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. That suit, filed by James and Amanda Tackett, essentially accused the university of false advertising — by promising their dorms were safe and secure. It also accused the university of omitting material facts about alleged incidents of sexual assaults on the campus in efforts to boost enrollment.

The university denied those claims and said the suit inaccurately portrays the environment on the campus.

The latest suit charges that the university was “deliberately indifferent to the sexual harassment of a student by another student.” It also charges that after reporting the alleged attack, Tackett was stalked by the football player and retaliated against by members of the KU rowing team coaching staff.

“It’s every father’s nightmare,” said James Tackett, Daisy’s father, who spoke at a press conference about the suit in Kansas City on Monday. “I am filled with righteous anger.”

The suit does not name the football player. But it said that this month the accused player “had agreed to be expelled” from the university. Lawyers representing Tackett said Monday that the expulsion came after the conclusion of the university’s investigation into the alleged rape.

The university declined to comment on details of the lawsuit. “KU does not comment on individual sexual assault investigations,” said Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a KU spokeswoman. And, she said, “any suggestion that we do not support those who report sexual assault on our campuses is baseless.”

According to the suit, Tackett was allegedly assaulted shortly after arriving on campus in fall 2014. She was then an 18-year-old freshman living in Naismith Hall. The alleged incident took place in the university’s Jayhawker Towers.

The suit asks KU to pay actual damages in excess of $75,000, including Tackett’s tuition and housing costs.

“We filed this lawsuit … to hold KU accountable for the way that it treated one of its best students, Daisy Tackett,” said Tackett’s lawyer, Dan Curry, during the press conference.

Tackett was not present at the press event, and her father said she “is in a very fragile state.” Tackett left KU in January 2016, in her sophomore year, and returned home to Florida.

Her father read a brief statement Monday that he said was written by his daughter.

“I reported my rape because I thought other KU students were at risk,” Tackett’s statement said. “I did not feel safe after my report. I felt like I did every single thing KU asked of me, and I feel that they did not hold up their end of the bargain. KU did not protect me.”

Tackett’s statement also said that filing the suit is her “contribution” to what she calls Kansas’ “rich history of standing up for what is right … I hope Kansas and Jayhawks will stand with me.”

Tackett, described by her father as an honor student and member of the student senate, did not report the alleged rape to police. However, the lawsuit said, Tackett confided in a teammate.

But after returning to campus the following fall for her sophomore year, she reported the alleged assault to members of the KU Athletics Department and the university Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, which investigates reports of Title IX violations.

“Tackett asserts that KU created a hostile educational environment when it chose to house KU football players in the Jayhawker Towers, despite knowledge of a high rate of sexual assaults, making the KU football player’s attack on her … foreseeable,” Curry said in a statement released Monday morning.

“My coaches did not care,” Tackett said in her statement.

The suit said that after learning about the alleged rape, head rowing coach Rob Catloth refused to allow Tackett to travel with the team on an annual training trip in December 2015. He also allegedly threatened to block her from transferring to another school in the Big XII conference, the suit said.

The suit also claims that Catloth was heard by Tackett and other members of the rowing team making racial remarks about some rowers and calling some of the women “fat.” It said the comments were reported to Debbie Van Saun, senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator, who is responsible for handling Title IX complaints from athletes.

The suit claims KU administrators “failed” to act on those complaints.

Catloth declined to comment on the claims in the lawsuit. Van Saun referred The Star to Jim Marchiony, a spokesman for the athletics department. Marchiony referred The Star to the university statement made earlier Monday.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc