Two women, in a new federal lawsuit, have accused the University of Missouri of ignoring complaints of sexual assault against former basketball player Terrence Phillips, who was dismissed from the team in February 2018.
The lawsuit, filed with U.S. District Court on Monday, the women sued the UM Board of Curators, claiming that Missouri didn't follow its Title IX rules in the investigation of Phillips.
“The University first ignored, and then later mishandled the investigation,” the lawsuit by the women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, states. “Its failures resulted in Phillips being found to have no responsibility for most of his egregious conduct.”
The Jane Doe 2 defendant accuses Philips of raping her on Dec. 5, 2017, videotaping it and sending messages to friends while it was taking place.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages and demanding the university change its Title IX policies.
University of Missouri spokesperson Christian Basi said the university is reviewing the lawsuit.
Phillips is not an active student with the school and was last enrolled in the Fall 2018 semester, Basi said.
The lawsuit was filed by St. Louis-area attorneys Gerard T. Carmody, Ryann C. Carmody and Candace E. Johnson. A representative for Carmody MacDonald, the attorney’s law firm, said it would not comment on the matter at this time.
The Title IX lawsuit investigation into Phillips was opened in January 2018, with Phillips being suspended indefinitely by the basketball team from all activities that same month.
Missouri's Title IX office cleared Phillips of rape and stalking allegations and closed its investigation in July 2018.
The lawsuit alleges Phillips engaged in a pattern of behavior that was apparent by the end of his freshman year in the spring of 2016.
“In the fall of 2016, Phillips began assaulting a female student and fellow classmate,” the lawsuit states. “Despite her fear of retaliation, she eventually filed a Title IX complaint against Phillips for this abuse.”
The woman later told the Title IX office she did not want to pursue the complaint. The university could have conducted its own investigation but did not, the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiff Jane Doe 1 accuses Phillips of stalking her in the spring and summer of 2017, including showing up at her house at odd hours, coming into the break room where she worked and sending unwanted sexual text messages.
The lawsuit states that the Title IX investigation of Phillips began only after Jane Doe 2 reported he raped her to the university and the Columbia Police Department.
The university did not follow its policies on investigations, the lawsuit claims, stating “the investigator did limited interviews, did not speak to most (if any) of the witnesses identified by plaintiffs, never attempted to retrieve surveillance from the dates of the incidents, never re-interviewed Plaintiffs, and did very little follow-up or investigation, leaving the investigation far from complete.”
MU found Phillips responsible for violating two Title IX policies. According to the lawsuit, one involved him pushing an ex-girlfriend in 2016 and the other involved exposing his genitals.
Phillips was removed from the men’s basketball team less than a month after the investigation opened.
In July 2018, Phillips boasted that he had won in the Title IX investigations in a post to his Twitter account.
“Today, I can finally say that I was found not responsible of the allegations against me of sexual misconduct, rape, exploitation and stalking,” Phillips wrote. “I had four complaints filed and investigated, and won, unanimously, three of them.”
The lawsuit alleges he used social media in November 2018 “to publicly shame all the victims who came forward against him.”
Phillips did not respond to an email seeking comment.