Former rower and University student Daisy Tackett withdrew from the University in January 2016 following an alleged sexual assault.

Editor's note: The University Daily Kansan generally does not name sexual assault victims in accordance with the Kansan's policy guide. However, Daisy Tackett has given the Kansan permission to publish her name and photo.

A former University student athlete filed a Title IX lawsuit March 21 against KU. The lawsuit claims the University “created a hostile educational environment” because it failed to protect her after she said she was raped by a KU football player in Jayhawker Towers, an on-campus residence hall.

The KU football player, who is unnamed in the lawsuit, was under investigation for two independent reports of sexual assault, according to the lawsuit. He was never suspended or issued a "no contact letter," the lawsuit stated.

The former student athlete, Daisy Tackett, was a student senator and a rower at the University. She said she left the University in January 2016 because of stress from the alleged assault and the investigation.

The lawsuit, filed March 21 in Douglas County District Court, claims the assault was foreseeable by the University. It stated that football players are housed in the same residence hall as other students “despite knowledge of a high rate of sexual assault,” Dan Curry, Tackett’s lawyer, said in a news release.

Other than Tackett’s lawsuit, one Title IX investigation is open against the University, with three complaints about sexual assault and sexual harassment within that investigation.

The University's former police chief Ralph Oliver — who worked at KU for 38 years — said there's been a sharp increase of reported sexual assaults at KU, he said to the Lawrence Journal-World in January. The lawsuit also reported that the former police chief said sexual assaults remained the biggest issue for the campus, according to the lawsuit. 

"A state of shock and horror"

In fall 2014, a group of student athletes and other University students went to Jayhawker Towers after a Halloween party for a gathering, according to the lawsuit. Tackett said she attended the Halloween party.

 She said she was invited to the football player's apartment to "watch a television show," the lawsuit states. That's when the alleged rape happened.

Tackett said she stayed in his apartment in "a state of shock and horror," according to the lawsuit. It said that at the time, she chose not to report the sexual assault but told a teammate what happened.

She kept going to class but tried to avoid her alleged assailant, according to the lawsuit. She said she experienced panic attacks while on campus and during rowing team practices at the KU football stadium.

"Throughout the rest of the 2014-2015 school year, Plaintiff made a valiant effort to have a normal college experience," the lawsuit said. 

The aftermath

One year later, in October 2015, another rowing team member told Tackett that the same assailant had assaulted her. Her fellow rower had reported the assault to the University and the police. After learning this, Tackett reported that she had also been raped.

She said she first reported the assault to the rowing team trainer and was referred to a KU Athletics physician and then a member of the Institutional Opportunity & Access (IOA).  

IOA declined to comment on the case.

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of University news and media relations, confirmed in an email that "the university does not comment on specific instances or allegations of sexual assault."

In the lawsuit, Tackett said the football player stalked her at two separate locations: once in front of Blake Hall and Watson Library.

"The KU football player stared her down and called her a derogatory name," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed that after she reported the incidents to the IOA, she was provided an escort to walk her between Blake Hall and Wescoe Hall.

She said that as a result of the incidents, she frequently missed workouts and her anxiety worsened. From October through December, she withdrew from campus life and would avoid athletic-related buildings because she didn't want to encounter the football player, the lawsuit reports.

She said although her coaches were aware of the alleged sexual assault and her increasing anxiety, coach Rob Catloth informed her she would not be allowed to travel on an annual training trip to Florida.

For Tackett, rowing provided her a way to "help cope with the situation," according to the lawsuit. However, she said even though she passed a fitness test to prove she was fit enough on the trip, she was still not allowed to travel with the team.

She said that because she felt forced to leave the team and the University, she requested a letter from Catloth to transfer to another school. According to the lawsuit, he told her he would write the letter, but not permit her to transfer to another Big 12 school.

The University also put a hold on her transcript and asked her to return her rowing team clothing, Curry said. 

After winter break, the football player had not been suspended nor expelled; however, he agreed to expulsion in March 2016, according to the lawsuit.

Why Daisy Tackett filed the lawsuit

At a press conference in Kansas City, Mo., Monday afternoon for the lawsuit, Tackett's father read a statement from her. In that statement, she said she reported her rape because she thought other students were at risk. However, she said she did not feel safe after she made the report. She also said she felt her coaches did not care.

"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," she said in her statement. 

"KU did not protect me. And I was not able to be a student or an athlete there. I hope the KU community understands why I had to do this. KU cannot be allowed to operate under the status quo."

Her father said she is in a "very fragile state." 

“I’m filled with righteous anger. And I wish I could name this person but he knows who he is, his parents know who he is, his coach knows who he is,” James Tackett said. “And if he was a man he would stand up, he would ask for forgiveness, he would apologize, which he has not done, and he would face the consequences.” 

James Tackett added: “He is a serial rapist. I think he should have been taken off campus immediately...If I could speak to a father of any female student at KU, I would say, 'Move them out of the housing because it is obviously not safe.'"

Currently, Daisy Tackett is applying to other universities for the fall semester and wants to study political science, her father said.

The breakdown

The lawsuit alleges that the University failed to protect Daisy Tackett from retaliation from her assailant after she reported her assault. It claims that Tackett had to take measures to avoid meeting the assailant. The lawsuit says the assault caused her to have panic attacks on campus and when practicing at KU's football stadium.

Tackett “no longer felt safe on campus,” Curry said.

“She experienced panic attacks, fear and terror as she tried to go to cooperate in KU’s investigation, go to class and participate in KU’s rowing team,” he said. “KU’s rowing team coaches did not accommodate her, and prevented her from participating in team activities.”

The suit also alleges that her coach retaliated against her and denied her opportunities following her complaint to IOA.

Tackett is seeking an amount of more than $75,000, which would cover: attorney's fees, tuition and housing reimbursement, transcripts, and further legal and equitable relief. The lawsuit states that Daisy has incurred, and will continue to incur, expenses for medical and psychological treatment.

Barcomb-Peterson, director of University news and media relations, said the University does not comment on individual sexual assault investigations. 

"As we said in response to the Tacketts' first lawsuit earlier this month, any suggestion that we do not support those who report sexual assault on our campuses is baseless," Barcomb-Peterson said.

KU Athletics declined to comment.

Tackett’s parents filed a class-action lawsuit against the University claiming that it is falsely marketing its on-campus housing as safe. The first lawsuit is an application of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

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