After being in the headlines for the better part of two years over claims that they were covering up sexual assault and dismissing and punishing the victims, Liberty University, home of disgraced former president Jerry Falwell Jr, reached a settlement with 20 of the 22 women who accused them of wrongdoing.
Jerry Larkin, the lawyer for the Jane Does who filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the University was violating federal anti-discrimination law Title IX by failing to process and investigate credible claims of sexual assault and harassment allegations properly, acknowledged that “the case is now settled” but not disclose what the terms were, noting that it was never about the money for the plaintiffs, but rather about the exposure that would spur Liberty on to action.
“While there are large provisions that the plaintiffs will continue to be able to talk about, there is no non-disclosure agreement that would prevent them from telling their stories in the future, but the terms of the settlement itself and the conduct of the mediation are both confidential”
In a statement put out by Liberty, they say they’re committed to doing what they can to “make things right” and reveal several of the strategies and initiatives they put in place even before the settlement was reached, including:
“over $8.5 Million in security upgrades, including the installation of security cameras, blue lightboxes, and enhanced campus lighting, along with the launching of a cell phone app for emergency reporting”
Crucially, rather than just throwing money at the problem, the university also launched reviews of its policies and procedures as it relates to Title IX , such as :
“Additional mandatory training for students and employees. There will also be changes to Liberty’s amnesty policy. The existing policy is now being revised to better communicate — with respect to reports of sexual harassment and/or assault— that Liberty does not discipline parties who engage in behaviors, in connection with that sexual harassment and/or assault, that would have otherwise violated its student honor code.”
There is no word yet on the next course of action for the two Jane Does who did not settle.
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