North Texas Daily

Lawsuit alleges UNT mishandled sexual assault investigation

Lawsuit alleges UNT mishandled sexual assault investigation

March 04
14:39 2016

Chelsea Watkins | Staff Writer


A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges UNT violated Title IX in the way it handled the investigation of a student who was sexually assaulted by a UNT library employee.

The lawsuit claims the university allowed the man, Derek Rankins, to remain employed after the alleged rape, causing the student, who is only named as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, to feel unsafe. The Denton Record-Chronicle first reported the lawsuit Friday.

The alleged assault occurred on Jan. 8, 2015 and was reported formally to a senior investigator at UNT’s Office of Equal Opportunity days later, on Jan. 12, according to the lawsuit. The morning after the incident, she received a rape exam at the hospital, according to reports.

The student said she failed to receive answers on the status of her case’s investigation after repeatedly seeking updates throughout the semester. By July, the university said the investigation was completed, but denied her the results.

Rankins is said to be the perpetrator accused of sexually assaulting the victim, however, he is not named as a defendant in the federal suit. Instead, UNT president Neal Smatresk and UNT regents are explicitly named as the defendants.

The lawsuit claims the university failed to comply with Title IX, the DRC reported, which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receives federal funding.

In the lawsuit, the student claimed to have been placed in the Santa Fe residence Hall for several days, where victims of sexual assault are directed to stay, but she was told by a UNT official that she could no longer stay there for free as the university could not afford the expense. However, there is no official word that Santa Fe is the designated hall for sexual assault victims.

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