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Reed v. Southern Illinois University

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

September 27, 2019

BAILEY REED, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Bailey Reed, who was a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 2017, alleges that Defendants Southern Illinois University d/b/a Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (“SIUE”), Randall Pembrook, Ashley Cox, Kara Shustrin and Chad Martinez engaged in a course of gender discrimination and violated her constitutional rights after Reed was sexually assaulted by another student. Before the Court are Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Docs. 9, 12). For the reasons delineated below, the Court grants Defendants’ motion and directs Plaintiff to file an amended complaint on or before October 25, 2019.

         Factual Allegations

         In her complaint, Plaintiff Bailey Reed alleges that she was a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in October 2017, living in campus housing. Throughout the month of October, she and another SIUE student exchanged friendly and “flirty” messages. She liked the other student. At one point, the other student sent Reed a text and asked, “Do you find me trustworthy?” She replied, “From what I know, Absolutely.” He then asked, “Do you think I’m respectful?” Reed replied, “From what I know, I think you’re a great guy.”

         About a day or so after the exchange, the student asked Reed via online communication what she was doing, and she replied that she was getting ready to meet a friend. The student responded that he was coming over to her on-campus apartment. Reed alleges that she did not invite him over, but she did not protest because she liked him.

         Reed signed the student into her building, allowing him to come to her apartment. Once there, he grabbed her by the hand and pulled her onto his lap. Reed was uncomfortable and tried to pull herself away. The student began kissing her, and she kissed him back. She quickly told him, however, that she did not want to have sex. He ignored her and picked her up and threw her onto her bed. He proceeded to sexually assault her despite Reed repeatedly telling him “no” and crying. The student repeatedly told her, “It’s fine.” Later that night, after discussing it with a friend and with her mother, Reed went to Anderson Hospital to report that she had been raped.

         At the hospital, a woman entered Reed’s room and told her that she worked for a non-profit rape crisis center named Call for Help and that another Call for Help employee, Defendant Ashley Cox, who worked with all SIUE students who were sexually assaulted, would be in touch. Reed was scared and traumatized when she received the call from Cox. Cox allegedly told Reed that she worked for Call for Help and that their conversations were confidential. Cox failed to reveal that she had become an employee of SIUE approximately four months earlier. Cox told Reed that she did not have to report the rape, but Reed decided she wanted to and went to the SIUE police department. Cox met her there.

         At the police department, Cox and Reed spoke privately, and Cox asked Reed how she wanted to proceed. Reed said that she wanted to report the rape and that she wanted to move from her on-campus apartment. Cox then briefly described the Title IX process, allegedly emphasizing how difficult it, and the criminal process, would be. She asked if Reed was sure she wanted to report the assault, and Reed confirmed that she wanted to report it to both the Title IX Office and to the police.

         After the conversation, Reed’s mother, in front of Reed, told Cox that she was concerned about Reed remaining in the apartment where she had been assaulted, and Cox replied sternly that there was nothing that could be done. Cox then told Reed that she would inform SIUE’s Title IX office that Reed wanted to report a sexual assault and that someone from the office would contact her within a few days. When no one from the office called, Reed’s mother tried to reach out to Cox, but Cox did not return her calls.

         Reed’s mother reached out to the Title IX office directly, but she did not receive a response until she left a message threating to contact a Dean. At that point, she was told that the entire office was out and that it would be a week or more before someone was available to meet with the family. Reed’s mother demanded quicker action, and a meeting eventually was scheduled.

         Reed and her family first met with Defendant Kara Shustrin, an Associate Dean, who said that the Title IX office was aware of the assault but that Cox told them that Reed did not want to make a report. Reed told her that she did want to make a report, and Shustrin and Defendant Chad Martinez, the Title IX Coordinator, offered Cox as a support contact and liaison for the Title IX process. Reed declined the offer of Cox’s assistance. Reed alleges that she and her counsel did not learn of Cox’s status as an SIUE employee until September 2018 through online research, and she alleges that Cox discouraged her from reporting her sexual assault and failed to start the Title IX process, despite Reed’s desire to proceed.

         Reed sought safety accommodations from the Title IX Office so that she could attend school without issue. First, she asked for assistance with a class in which both she and her attacker were enrolled. Shustrin and Martinez told Reed that she could attend by Skype as long as she could find a friend to set up the Skype in the classroom for her. Meanwhile, her attacker could attend class whenever he wanted.

         Reed and her family protested this exclusion from direct access to her education, and eventually SIUE told her that her attacker would be allowed to attend only every other class and that Reed could have a friend use Skype or Facetime on those days. Reed alleges that Defendants did not offer technological assistance, nor did they ensure that she had a friend in class who could assist her with attending remotely. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ offer was not an accommodation, but rather their suggested plan cut her off from half of her coursework.

         Reed sought a civil order of protection against her attacker in the Circuit Court in Madison County, Illinois, and an emergency no-contact order was issued on October 27, 2018. The emergency order required Reed’s attacker to stay 500 feet away from her, and it prevented him from attending SIUE. Reed told Defendants about the order, and Shustrin and Martinez told her that it was her responsibility to enforce. The order was modified on November 16, 2017, to allow Reed’s attacker to visit his campus apartment and to attend two specific meetings with a professor provided that he communicated through his attorney the dates and times so that Reed could avoid campus. He also was permitted to attend ...

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