A federal judge has dismissed most of a Title IX lawsuit filed against Haskell Indian Nations University by a former student who says she was treated unfairly and ultimately expelled after she reported she was raped in a dormitory three years ago by two football players.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten agreed with attorneys for the university who argued that Title IX doesn't apply to Haskell as it does to other public colleges because the school is a federal agency operated by the Bureau of Indian Education, The Lawrence Journal-World reported .
Marten granted the woman's request to allow a Privacy Act claim to proceed in court. That claim alleges that Haskell administrators illegally released the woman's private records during the court proceedings. However, the judge ruled that the woman, who has been named Jane Doe H. in court filings, would have to use her name to proceed with that claim.
Title IX prohibits gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Haskell's attorneys argued the law doesn't apply to the school because it doesn't receive federal assistance but is actually a federal agency. It is one of only two institutions of higher education operated by the federal Bureau of Indian Education. The other is Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"Haskell is a unique national institution of higher learning for Native Americans," Marten wrote in his July 18 order. "It provides a tuition-free education for members of indigenous Nations, and any federal assistance takes the form of Pell Grants or other assistance for limited expenses."
The woman's attorney, Dan Curry, of Kansas City, Missouri, said his client was disappointed by the decision.
"The government's position was that the students at Haskell do not have the same rights as the students attending KU, or K-State or UMKC," Curry wrote in an email to the Journal-World. "The United States argued that Haskell students should have fewer rights. We disagree and will continue to press the argument."
Curry said the case would continue under the privacy complaint.
Haskell spokesman Stephen Prue referred all questions to the Bureau of Indian Education. Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said in a statement Wednesday that the bureau "believes the decision speaks for itself."
One of the men accused of the rape, Jared Wheeler, pleaded no contest to aggravated battery and was sentenced to two months in jail and two years of probation. The second student, Galen Satoe, was acquitted of attempted aggravated sodomy but two juries were unable to reach a verdict on rape and other charges. The Douglas County District Attorney has decided not to pursue a third trial against Satoe.