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Tulsa Facing Title IX Lawsuit Over Alleged Rape By Athlete

Illustration for article titled Tulsa Facing Title IX Lawsuit Over Alleged Rape By Athlete

A federal lawsuit filed Monday is accusing the University of Tulsa of failing to adhere to Title IX standards and not protecting a female student after she was allegedly raped by one of the school's basketball players.

ESPN's Outside the Lines has details of the allegations made by Abigail Ross, as well as stories that allege the basketball player, Patrick Swilling, has a history of sexual assault. In fact, Ross was the second girl to leave school (she since returned) because of the school's mishandling of a sexual assault case involving Swilling.

Swilling's history goes back to 2012 when he was attending the College of Southern Idaho, where he allegedly assaulted another student named Lexi Mallory:

At the start winter break in December 2011, Mallory and Swilling made plans to watch a movie, Mallory told "Outside the Lines" in April. Swilling was lying on her bed when he pulled her in and started touching her butt and panties, Mallory said, before she swatted his hand away.

"He pulled out a condom, and I was like, 'That's not why I invited you over here,'" she said. She said he got on top of her and she couldn't move her arms or legs.

"He kind of was like, 'You know you wanted it. Why are you flirting with me? You know, I thought this is what you wanted.' I was like, 'No. You're my ex's teammate. That's not, that's not OK,'" she said.

"I thought saying 'no' once was enough, but clearly it wasn't."

Mallory's mother wrote an email detailing the alleged assault to Southern Idaho men's basketball coach Steve Gosar, who reported the incident to the school's president and athletic director. But Tulsa's Title IX coordinator Monty Arrossa was never contacted, and the school never conducted its own investigation, which is required by federal law. City police investigated, but Mallory recanted her story when the investigation became traumatizing. She left school and has yet to finish her degree.


Abigail Ross reported an incident with Swilling soon after he arrived in Tulsa:

On Feb. 11, 2012, Tulsa student Abigail Ross filed a complaint with campus security that Swilling had raped her in his apartment two weeks earlier. On Feb. 18, she filed a report with Tulsa city police and a petition for a protection order in which she described what happened after she went over to Swilling's apartment.


Swilling was suspended from the team by Manning on Feb. 12, 2014, because of the Ross investigation. Six weeks later, Tulsa dean of students Yolanda Taylor cleared Swilling.


Here's where the story gets worrying. Tulsa's dean of students essentially cleared Swilling based on a few text-message conversations, and said the nature of those conversations were inconsistent with Ross's allegations. It's a flagrant misunderstanding of how rapes happen, especially at college:

"You noted that as you lay on Mr. Swilling's bed, 'he rolled over, grabbed your rear end and said you have a big butt for a white girl,'" Taylor wrote in her letter to Ross. "You stated this made you feel uncomfortable and caused you to scoot away from him and off the bed. However, in a text message dated January 20, 2014, Mr. Swilling made a similar statement, 'I didn't know white girls had ass like that,' and you responded with, 'Haha thanks.'"

The last finding Taylor cited was that Swilling said Ross made him "pinky promise" that he would not tell anyone the two of them had sex, and his description of linking pinkie fingers and kissing a thumb was how Ross' friend described how Ross typically performed a "pinky promise."

"Based on the inconsistencies in your testimony, I have determined there is insufficient evidence" to show Swilling was at fault, Taylor wrote to Ross.


The Tulsa district attorney's office also declined to press charges against Swilling. A PDF of Ross's lawsuit, via ESPN, can be found here. Outside the Lines found a third, unnamed woman who was an athlete at Tulsa who also alleges that Swilling sexually assaulted her, although she declined to go to the police.

[Outside the Lines]

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