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Three years after the state agreed to pay $125,000 to Iowa State University’s former Title IX coordinator over claims ISU failed to provide her the support she needed to do her job, the state is doubling the impact of that dispute by signing a similar settlement with the ISU student who sued first.
The State Appeal Board on Monday unanimously agreed to a $125,000 settlement with Emily Black, who in 2017 sued the state and its former Title IX coordinator Robinette Kelley for mishandling her sexual assault report in 2013 by failing to properly investigate it and provide equal protection.
Black’s lawsuit accused Kelley of negligence in finding insufficient evidence to warrant bringing student misconduct charges against her accused attacker and in closing the case in 2014.
Kelley, who filed a lawsuit against Iowa State just hours after Black, accused the university of failing to provide her the necessary authority to do her job – asserting she found an assault occurred but received pushback from campus administrators and police.
The ISU dean didn’t move the accused perpetrator from the residence hall where he lived along with Black, according to Kelley, who complained in her lawsuit about Iowa State’s “decision to provide the perpetrator-respondent with leniency, deference, and more rights, benefits, and access to educational opportunities than the female victim.”
The State Appeal Board in August 2018 agreed to pay Kelley $125,000 to settle her lawsuit – splitting the payment $73,723 to Kelley and $51,277 to her attorneys. This week’s settlement with Black brings the dispute’s total financial impact on Iowa to a quarter-million dollars, with $65,109 going directly to Black and $59,891 going to her attorneys.
As part of the agreement, Black acquitted ISU of liability in the case, which had been scheduled for trial in March.
A recent Board of Regents claims report shows Iowa State in the 2020 calendar year had 18 lawsuits pending against it, down from 25 in 2019 and 36 in 2018.
The report tallies 50 against the University of Iowa in 2020, up from 44 in 2019 but down from 55 in 2018.
And the University of Northern Iowa had 13 pending lawsuits in 2020, compared with 11 in 2019 and eight in 2018.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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