New filing shows UT internal investigation found athletes committed sex assaults; Remained on campus

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) –The latest filing in the Title IX lawsuit claims that male athletes were found by the University of Tennessee to have committed sexual assaults at the conclusion of an internal investigation.

Court documents found the students were allowed to remain enrolled in the school, remain on campus, and graduate or transfer.

In February, several unidentified women filed suit against the University of Tennessee alleging the university violated their federal right to be protected from sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus.

The women claim the university created a student culture that enables sexual assault by athletes, particularly football players.

The lawsuit, whose plaintiffs are only identified as “Jane Doe,” accuses former athletes of sexual assault: former basketball player Yemi Makanjuola, former football players A.J. Johnson, Michael Williams and Riyahd Jones, and a current football player who was not identified.

That alleged assault, according to the suit, happened after a football team party at Vol Hall in September 2014 where the victim was served drinks by former UT player Treyvon Paulk, who was still taking part in team events despite an allegation of battery by his girlfriend weeks before.

The lawsuit alleges the university enables an environment of bad behavior and its disciplinary system favors the players, citing more than a dozen other incidents involving football players, some previously unreported.

The plaintiffs accuse UT of being deliberately indifferent to sexual assaults, interfering with the disciplinary process in favor of male athletes charged with rape and “directly supporting, maintaining and controlling environments for athletes in the major sports of football and basketball that encouraged underage drinking, drug use and rape.”

The suit specifically names Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, Athletic Director Dave Hart and Head Football Coach Butch Jones as knowing about sexual assaults and rapes by football players yet acting with indifference and failing to take corrective actions.

According to the plaintiffs, the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (TUAPA) procedure is one-sided and favors the athletes because it only allows those accused of sexual assaults, not victims, to have right of confrontation, cross-examination and an evidentiary administrative hearing.

Cheek allegedly appoints administrative judges and hearing officers favorable to athletes, and then is responsible for deciding any appeals.

The plaintiffs are asking for an unspecified monetary award, an order preventing UT from unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex and other means to address violations of Title IX, including a comprehensive sexual assault policy.

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