Liberty University has reportedly reached a settlement with various plaintiffs—a mix of former students and employees—who sued the evangelical college in Virginia for allegedly mishandling Title IX issues for years. The settlement was made official Wednesday, according to court documents.
“The terms of the settlement are confidential in nature, and there’s really nothing I can say about it beyond that the parties to the suit have resolved their differences and the matter is settled,” Jack Larkin, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told local TV station WDBJ.
The original lawsuit, filed by a group of 12 Jane Does, was brought against Liberty in July. Additional plaintiffs later joined the case. Plaintiffs claimed in court filings that Liberty discouraged them from reporting incidents of sexual assault or punished complainants for various code of conduct violations, such as drinking or premarital sex, when they did come forward.
However, The Roys Report, an independent news website covering the evangelical community, recently reported that at least two Jane Does in the case have refused to settle with Liberty. One plaintiff claims that she was offered an initial settlement of $5,000, which was later upped to $35,000. She has accused Liberty of insulting and retraumatizing her in the settlement dispute.
“Liberty University can confirm that the institution reached settlement agreements with all the Jane Doe plaintiffs, as well as all but two of the additional Jane Does that attorney Larkin represented. As a result, Mr. Larkin dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit that he had previously filed on the Jane Does’ behalf,” an emailed statement from the university said.
The statement, which did not address the ongoing investigation, notes that Liberty is investing $8.5 million in security upgrades, which will add more cameras, emergency call boxes and a mobile application for reporting emergencies. The statement adds that Liberty has launched a review of its Title IX processes and department to strengthen its policies and procedures on sexual assault issues.
Beyond the settled case, two additional lawsuits regarding Title IX issues at Liberty have been filed, the most recent in April. Both make claims that are similar to the lawsuit brought by the 12 Jane Does. The Department of Education recently opened a Clery Act compliance review at Liberty, and the Office for Civil Rights is also investigating allegations of discrimination based on sexual orientation.