Friday, March 07, 2014

Sexual Assault Lawsuit Filed Against Boise State

A female student at Boise State University has filed suit in state court, alleging that the university violated Title IX and other Idaho laws when her track coach allegedly brushed off her report of having been sexually assaulted by a male teammate.  The plaintiff, sophomore Megan Opatz, alleged in particular that she reported the assault to her coach, J.W. Hardy, and asked for his assistance, but he "refused to take any action and told her 'could not help.'"  Her complaint also alleges that prior to her assault, the same assailant assaulted another female student on the team.  This too had been reported to Coach Hardy, who allegedly did nothing.  Opatz's complaint attributes this indifference to athletic department policy of protecting the reputation of athletes and the athletic department.

The damages potentially available to Opatz if she successfully proves her case include damages arising from the coach's indifference to the first student's reported assault, as well has his indifference to her own.  That means, she can recover money for the physical, emotional, and other economic damages arising from the assault as well as its aftermath.  To the latter category, it is relevant that Opatz alleges that her assailant was free to continue to torment her, further compounding the emotional harm to which a damages award could apply.