Former student files lawsuit against SIUE for its handling of her rape on campus

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A lawsuit was filed in federal court Tuesday (Oct. 16) against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and four employees, including the chancellor. The lawsuit, filed by a former student, alleges the university violated Title IX when it failed to uphold the student's rights after she was raped on campus by a classmate.

Wednesday, October 17 marks one year since Bailey Reed says she was raped by a classmate in her apartment on campus. Reed says she had recently met her perpetrator and had a class with him.

The lawsuit details the events of Reed's alleged assault.

Reed said she went to the hospital hours after the rape. She was subjected to a rape kit and gave a statement to police. The next day, she was contacted by defendant Ashley Cox, who said she worked for a non-profit rape crisis center.

The lawsuit says Cox did not disclose she was an employee of SIUE and also told Reed she did not have to report the rape.

"She asked if I wanted to move forward and if I wanted to press charges, and she explained the Title IX process," said Reed of her conversation with Cox. "I was like, 'Yeah, I want to do all of that. I'm pressing charges, I'm moving forward, he's not getting away with this. This isn't fair.' And she was like, 'Okay, I understand, but you do realize the chances of you winning something that like that or getting the university to help you with something like that is really hard.'"

In addition to the university and Cox, the lawsuit also names Chancellor Randall Pembrook, as well as Kara Shustrin and Chad Martinez, who both work in the Title IX office at the university.

Title IX states a person has a right to an education free from gender discrimination. According to Reed's attorney, Nicole Gorovsky of Gorovsky Law, this also applies in the case of a rape on campus.

"The aftermath of that rape and how a person is supposed to go on at school, especially if their perpetrator is attending the school, effects their access to education," said Gorovsky.

Reed described months of interactions with the university where she says she was made to feel unsafe and unsupported. Following the assault, she got an order of protection against her perpetrator. He was arrested on campus after violating the order.

In January, a Madison County judge ruled Reed was a victim of non-consensual sex by the perpetrator. The campus’ Sexual Harassment Panel agreed. However, the Title IX office and the chancellor ruled in favor of Reed's alleged perpetrator, saying he did not commit the sexual assault.

According to Reed, the Title IX office told her they "couldn't envision it happening" and she "didn't act like a victim."

Gorovsky says the Title IX office did not utilize SIUE campus police instead of conducting its own investigation.

"They failed to fully investigate the situation, and they really tried to discourage my client from even coming forward," she said.

The man accused of raping Reed has not been charged for the rape. According to Gorovsky, the prosecuting attorney's office is waiting on the results of Reed's rape kit, which is still at the lab.

SIUE issued the following statement in May when Reed first went public with her story (https://fox2now.com/2018/05/18/siue-grad-fights-for-change-on-campus-after-alleged-rape/):

"SIUE takes all complaints of sexual assault and other forms of sexual harassment very seriously, and seeks to provide a harassment and discrimination-free environment to all SIUE students, employees and visitors."

Fox 2/KPLR 11 reached out to the university after Tuesday's filing, a spokesperson said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Reed is seeking policy change and a yet-to-be-determined amount of money.

The university will now have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit in court.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville issued this statement:

"While the University does not generally comment on pending litigation, we disagree with many of the allegations made in Ms. Reed’s lawsuit regarding her treatment by SIUE, and the University’s Title IX investigation process. SIUE takes all complaints of sexual assault and other forms of sexual harassment very seriously, and seeks to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment to all SIUE students, employees and visitors. SIUE will vigorously defend against the allegations made by Ms. Reed in her complaint."

You can read the lawsuit below: