LYNCHBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A woman who has accused Liberty University of mishandling an accusation of sexual assault cannot have the protection of anonymity, a federal judge ruled last week.
The woman has so far been referred to only as “Jane Doe” in court documents, though her identity is known to both the University and Charles Tippett, the former student accused of assaulting her in 2020. Under Judge Norman K. Moon’s new order, she must add her real name to the civil complaint by Friday, Oct. 14 or the case will be dismissed.
Judge Moon also dismissed two of the woman’s five claims against Liberty University, but has so far allowed her two claims against Tippett to proceed. The University now faces three claims under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings. Tippet faces claims of assault and battery.
At the center of the case is an assault alleged to have occurred on October 30, 2020. According to the plaintiff, she “considered Tippett a friend and trusted him because of their shared status as Liberty University students.” But when she visited Tippett at his off-campus apartment that night, she claims he plied her with alcohol and a date rape drug, then proceeded to sexually assault her.
Afterwards, when the plaintiff reported the assault to Liberty University personnel, she claims they “deterred [her] from taking proper steps to pursue her perpetrator,” encouraging her not to make a formal complaint and failing to explain how she could pursue criminal charges.
The plaintiff, a “deeply religious young woman,” says she became pregnant after her assault, but miscarried at 11 weeks.
She is now seeking $1,776,000 from Tippett and the university, who are co-defendants in the case but are being represented separately.
Tippett has also filed a countersuit, claiming that the lawsuit itself constitutes defamation and has cost him his first job out of college. Separately, Liberty said they couldn’t be held liable for two counts claiming they created a “hostile environment” prior to the assault, and which enabled the assault to happen.
Judge Moon accepted Liberty’s argument, dismissing two claims for negligence and “pre-assault deliberate indifference,” but leaving the university to face claims for “post-assault deliberate indifference” and retaliation.
Judge Moon has not yet ruled on Tippett’s counterclaim, which the plaintiff has moved to dismiss. In his counterclaim, Tippett says he lost his job after media reports on the case came to the attention of his employer. The plaintiff replied that she had never spoken to the media herself, and that any statements made in court filings — which formed the basis of the media reports — were absolutely privileged, and can’t form the basis of a defamation claim.