HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a former student accuses a University of North Alabama professor of sexual assault. The suit also claims UNA violated Title IX by covering up the alleged assault.
UNA released a statement that said it disputes the allegations, implying the former student is attempting to extort the university for money.
WHNT spoke with a Huntsville attorney, Eric Artrip, who is familiar with Title IX law.
Artrip’s law firm handled what’s know as the “Sparkman Rape Bait Case”. The case made it all the way to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where they not only won, but also helped create new law.
“The law that it created was focused on actions after the fact,” said Artrip.
He said the recent lawsuit filed against UNA bring into question how the school handled an alleged sexual assault after it was reported.
Artip told WHNT the biggest hurdle for the plaintiff in the UNA case is the 11th ammendment of the U.S. constitution. The amendment is that a state can’t be sued.
“If UNA receives state funds, then they can say, we are the state and you can’t sue us,” explained Artrip.
He said UNA will likely file a motion to dismiss based on immunity provided by the constitution. However, he said like the “Sparkman Rape Bait Case”, it is possible for a dismissal to be overturned.
“It’s a complicated set of federal statues. The back and forth between the lawyers on this case can take a year, or two years, maybe even more,” said Artrip.
Despite the complications and time, Artrip said following through with these types of suits is critical.
“These kind of cases are very important, because they bring to light the actions of universities, and make it clear that circling the wagons is not an appropriate action to this type of behavior,” said Artrip.