United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. #32). After reviewing the relevant pleadings
and motion, the Court finds the motion should be denied.
case arises from an alleged sexual assault on Jane Doe
(“Doe”) by Derek Rankins (“Rankins”)
a former adjunct-professor of the University of North Texas
(“UNT”) and full-time employee at UNT's
library. Plaintiff reported the assault to Denton police who
conducted a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination
(“SANE”) exam and took samples to conduct a
toxicology test. Throughout Plaintiff's investigation,
Denton police retained custody of the SANE exam and of
Plaintiff's toxicology results.
same day, Plaintiff reported the assault to Rodney Mitchell
(“Mitchell”), Junior Dean of UNT. Mitchell
directed Plaintiff to file a report with the Office of Equal
Opportunity (“OEO”), gave her his cell number,
set up a safe room in the Santa Fe Dorm, and arranged a
police escort for Plaintiff to and from her safe room.
Mitchell told Plaintiff that the Santa Fe Dorm was temporary
and that she would have to either move back to her apartment
or begin to pay on February 2, 2015.
January 13, 2015, Mitchell took Plaintiff to the OEO to meet
Senior Investigator Kelly Gould (“Gould”).
Plaintiff informed Gould of what happened and formally filed
her complaint. Gould told Plaintiff that the investigation
would be completed in forty-five to sixty days. According to
the current Vice President of the OEO, there must be a
compelling reason to keep an investigation open longer than
forty-five days and the parties must be notified of that
Plaintiff's investigation, Gould was the OEO's only
investigator. Gould had about ten investigations open at the
time of Plaintiff's complaint. This was her first sexual
assault. Gould officially began FMLA leave in late April
2015, but missed several days beginning in early March. Gould
was on FMLA leave for about four weeks.
January 16, 2015, Gould contacted Interim Vice President for
Community Engagement, Dr. Jean Keller (“Keller”),
regarding Rankins. Gould and Keller then contacted the
library and decided to reassign Rankins's adjunct duties
that were set to begin on January 20, 2015. The same day,
Gould interviewed Rankins and informed him of the complaint.
Rankins claimed that he had consensual sex with Plaintiff.
Later that day, UNT sent a written notification of the
complaint to Rankins memorializing the meeting and
allegations against him. Meanwhile, Plaintiff met with
Mitchell and told him that she saw Rankins on a sidewalk on
or near campus while she was on the bus.
January 17, 2015, the Interim Dean for the College of Visual
Arts and Design sent Rankins a letter informing him that his
adjunct position had been reassigned and ordering him not to
enter the art building or Oak Street Hall. Gould claims that
she immediately informed Plaintiff of this decision. However,
Plaintiff claims that she was not told until mid-February.
UNT reassigned Rankins's adjunct position, he remained a
full-time employee in the library. Rankins was assigned to
the scanning lab in the back of the library's third
floor. Restrooms are not located in the scanning lab. The
only restrooms are located in the stairwells in the corners
of the building. Rankins did not have to clock in and his
hours were flexible, as long as he did forty per week.
began on January 20, 2015. That same day, the Dean of
Libraries Martin Halbert informed Rankins, once again, that
he was not to enter the College of Visual Arts and Design
building unless authorized to do so by the college.
Throughout the semester, Plaintiff was depressed and fearful
of running into Rankins. She stopped attending classes
regularly and avoided the library where she knew Rankins
worked. The first week of school, Plaintiff needed to go to
the library to complete an assignment because her books were
not in, but she did not go because she feared an encounter
with Rankins. Plaintiff informed Gould of this. Rankins also
had friends who attended classes in the art building with
Plaintiff. One friend in particular, Jeremy Chavez
(“Chavez”), would stare at Plaintiff in a way
that made her feel uncomfortable and threatened.
also began withdrawing from social activities because she
feared running into Rankins. Plaintiff confined herself to
her apartment, not leaving for several weeks at a time. One
night when Plaintiff did go to a local bar, a stranger
approached her and asked probing questions about her assault
and investigation until she began to cry. Plaintiff reported
this incident to Gould, but did not hear anything further.
end of the semester, Plaintiff sought Mitchell's help in
obtaining “incompletes” in her classes. Mitchell
was not available for two weeks in late April and early May.
UNT did not assign a new advocate for Mitchell's absence.
Ultimately, Plaintiff was unable to obtain
“incompletes” because of her many absences. As a
result, Plaintiff's grades declined.
Gould's leave in late April and May, UNT hired two people
to finish Plaintiff's investigation. First, UNT hired
Jared Davis (“Davis”) in May 2015. Davis reviewed
Gould's work, but did not interview any witnesses or
Gould about the investigation. Davis finished his
investigation on May 29, 2015. That day, Davis met with
Plaintiff and her attorney. Plaintiff's May 29 meeting
was the first time that UNT informed her as to why the
investigation took longer than 45 days. On June 1, 2015, UNT
hired Joann Woodard (“Woodard”) as Vice President
of OEO. Woodard ...