BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A federal lawsuit has been filed against the NCAA over sexual assault by male student-athletes. One of the seven plaintiffs in the case is listed as a student-athlete at a school in the America East Conference.
Schools across the country have struggled with how to reduce sexual violence on campus, how to support victims and how to protect the rights of the accused. This lawsuit specifically goes after the NCAA for failing to "address gender-based violence committed by male student-athletes against female students and student-athletes."
There are seven primary plaintiffs listed in the case. Two who were students at Michigan State, four from the University of Nebraska and one identified anonymously in the suit as "Jane Doe 3".
In the lawsuit, filed on April 29th, "Jane Doe 3" is described as a "citizen of the State of Vermont". Channel Three Sports first contacted the lead attorney in the lawsuit, Karen Truszkowski, by email on Monday, asking a number of questions about "Jane Doe 3" and the lawsuit, but did not receive a response.
Wednesday morning Channel Three Sports followed up via email with Truszkowski. She responded, telling Channel Three Sports that "Jane Doe 3" is actually a "resident of New York" and that "we will be clarifying that soon." As of Wednesday afternoon, the Complaint still referred to "Jane Doe 3" as a "citizen of the State of Vermont." Truszkowski went on to tell Channel Three Sports that "Jane Doe 3" has "always been a resident of New York", and that the reference to her being a "citizen of the State of Vermont" will be removed from the Complaint.
In Jane Doe 3's complaint, she claims that last September she was raped by a male student-athlete from the same America East school, a member of the men's basketball team.
The lawsuit goes on to describe what she perceived were challenges in reporting the alleged rape through the proper channels at the America East school. She describes being encouraged by school staff to accept an informal resolution of her complaint that resulted in minimal consequences for the accused.
The lawsuit claims Jane Doe 3 has "suffered severe emotional and physical distress" because of how her case was handled and that the school "has fostered a culture in which female victims are discouraged from reporting sexual assaults ... perpetrated by male student-athletes in order to protect ... male athletic programs ... ".
The unnamed America East school is not a defendant in the lawsuit at this time.
After examining Jane Doe 3's claims in the lawsuit, Channel Three Sports concluded that one of three schools in the America East Conference is the unnamed school in the lawsuit: Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
WCAX wanted to know if the University of Vermont is the America East school mentioned in the lawsuit. UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Schulman issued a statement, saying he's aware of the suit but that " ... no America East school would be able to comment on the specifics of the case, both out of respect for those involved and because it involves private student information."
Schulman goes on to say that if they ever were aware of a sexual misconduct allegation against a UVM athlete, it would be referred to the University's Title IX Office to investigate the complaint. Again, citing privacy concerns, UVM will not confirm or deny that this lawsuit involves students at the university.
The NCAA did not respond to our request for comment. Truszkowski told Channel Three Sports that the defendants in the case have yet to be served with the lawsuit.
*Editor's note: WCAX originally reported Jane Doe 3 was a "citizen of Vermont" because that is what the court filing says, but lawyers for the plaintiffs told WCAX News that was an error in the filing and she is actually a resident of New York.