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6 Women File Title IX Lawsuit Against Tennessee After String Of Sexual Assault Cases Involving Athletes

According to a report by The Tennessean, a new federal lawsuit against the University of Tennessee alleges that the school "has created a student culture that enables sexual assaults by student-athletes." Former Tennessee football players A.J. Johnson, Michael Williams, Riyahd Jones and an unnamed fourth player, as well as former men's basketball player Yemi Makanjuola, are all accused of sexual assault in the suit, brought forward by six unnamed women. 

In making its case that the university enabled an environment of bad behavior and used a disciplinary system that favored the players, the lawsuit cited more than a dozen incidents involving football players that included underage drinking, sexual harassment, assault, armed robbery and sexual assaults that did not involve the Jane Doe plaintiffs. Some of the incidents cited have previously never been reported.

The plaintiffs say that UT violated the Title IX laws, which protect students from gender discrimination in federally funded education programs. UT created a hostile sexual environment for female students by showing “deliberate indifference and a clearly unreasonable response after a sexual assault that causes a student to endure additional harassment," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also names Butch Jones as one of the UT higher-ups who acted with "deliberate indifference" when made aware of the accusations.

“UT administration (Chancellor Jimmy Cheek), athletic department (Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director) Dave Hart and football coach (Butch Jones) were personally aware (as ‘appropriate persons’ under Title IX) and had actual notice of previous sexual assaults and rapes by football players, yet acted with deliberate indifference to the serious risks of sexual assaults and failed to take corrective actions,” the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit.

We'll continue to update this story as more comes out.

[The Tennessean]