This article serves as the latest installment in an ongoing story about a series of trials entitled Abigail Ross v. The University of Tulsa.
Ross was a sophomore at TU in January 2014 when she approached campus officials to report that TU basketball player Patrick Swilling Jr. had raped her. Swilling was given a disciplinary hearing by the university, was suspended from the basketball team and cleared of all violations. Ross argued that despite having access to Swilling’s previous history of rape allegations, the university refused to take them into account in their decision.
The statement in Ross’ Complaint to the US District Court for the northern district of Oklahoma was that, “despite its knowledge of at least one, and as many as three prior allegations of sexual assault and misconduct perpetrated by Swilling, TU undertook zero investigation of his conduct and permitted Swilling to continue to attend TU.”
Ross’ suit included five counts of violations and negligence of Title IX requirements as they relate to sexual violence and a sixth count of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In April, 2016, District Judge Terence C. Kern ruled in favor of the University of Tulsa saying, “A jury could not conclude that TU acted intentionally or recklessly in response to Ross’ report.”
Kern explained that the Title IX does not obligate the appellate court to reexamine TU’s factual findings or examine their investigation process for possible errors. “The Court happens to agree with Ross that portions of the decision reflect strained reasoning, particularly the conclusion drawn from the students’ text exchange. However, Taylor’s decision hinges primarily on credibility assessments, which are beyond the scope of judicial review under Title IX,” he concluded.
Ross appealed the decision and on Wednesday, March 22, Ross’ lawyer John Clune and TU’s lawyer John David Lackey sat in hearing before Circuit Judges David Ebel, Paul Kelly and Robert Bacharach. Information about the conclusion of the hearing and the date of the appellate trial is not yet available to the public.