Former Bob Jones Student Sues Furman and Bob Jones for Mishandling her Sexual Assault Case
On Aug. 5 a former Bob Jones University student filed a lawsuit against Furman University, a Furman University football player, the Furman University Police Department (FUPD), Trevor Whitfield from the FUPD, and Bob Jones University (BJU) after claiming negligence and recklessness in the handling of her filed sexual assault case. The lawsuit brought by the BJU student under the alias of Jane Roe sues for negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness, as well as negligent hiring, supervision, retention, and interference with a contract.
Roe claims that she and her friend were invited to a party at Furman in Oct. 2019 by a Furman football player, and that, in total, seven Furman football players were present. At the party, she was given alcohol and marijuana by the football player, who she claims sexually assaulted her while she was under the influence. Additionally, Roe claimed the football player recorded the sexual assault and distributed the video to others.
Roe reported her assault to the Furman University Police Department the night of the incident. One of the responding officers was Trevor Whitfield, a Bob Jones alumnus, who is not listed as a current officers or staff member according to Furman University Police Department’s website page. Whitfield then contacted BJU and informed the University that Roe and her friend were intoxicated, as it is against BJU policy for students to consume alcohol.
The lawsuit reports that Roe and her friend were then taken to the hospital by an EMS, but they did not receive medical treatment. Roe did, however, receive a sexual forensic exam. Following the events, Jane Roe was expelled from BJU for violating the University’s alcohol policy. She filed the lawsuit alleging negligence and recklessness and is requesting a jury trial for monetary damages. The lawsuit also alleges that Whitfield acted out of line in reporting the drinking to BJU, given that Roe had reported a sexual assault and had expressed concern of possible expulsion if BJU found out about the drinking.
According to court documents, Roe states that upon receiving word from former officer Whitfield, Deneen Lawson, Dean of Women at BJU, went to the hospital in an attempt to speak with Jane Roe only to find out she had already left. Dean Lawson then contacted Roe and her mother to meet with her that morning. Without a formal investigation, Roe was expelled from Bob Jones University the morning following the alleged assault.
In response to the lawsuit, Furman Title IX coordinator Melissa Nichols said that although she is not able to discuss specifics of the ongoing case, “[Furman] wants all students, employees, and visitors on campus to feel comfortable reporting sexual misconduct.” Nichols emphasized that “[Title IX] has a thorough and thoughtful process that provides multiple options for reporting and adjudicating such cases, and I can promise you that we follow up on every report.” Without giving specific details on the case, Nichols can tell that “the facts are, as is often the case, more complicated and nuanced than what appears in news coverage and other publicly available sources.” Nichols also reminded that a Furman student who reports sexual misconduct or is a witness in a sexual misconduct matter would not be disciplined for drinking underage if that information came out during the sexual misconduct report or investigation.
Chief Milby from the Furman University Police Department said, “Details of the night in question are part of that litigation, and therefore even though they are not going on currently, I cannot comment on them.” Although he was not able to offer details he did remark that [FUPD] expects all officers to uphold the values of the police department and University. He also echoed Nichols’s statement saying, “it is also important to note that with any case, the details shared by news outlets and set forth in legal complaints do not tell all sides of a story.”
The Paladin reached out to Deneen Wilson, Dean of Women at BJU for comment, but received notice from her staff that “As this matter is currently in litigation, we are unable to provide comment.”
Several Furman University football players were also asked for comment but declined.
The accused football player is no longer a student at Furman University.
The lawsuit was filed in state court and currently awaits trial.