Iowa rape victim faults university for failure to protect

IOWA CITY – A woman raped by two University of Northern Iowa football players eight years ago says she has been devastated by the school’s failure to make accommodations for her to stay in school, according to a transcript of court testimony obtained by The Associated Press.

The Davenport woman testified in a Feb. 22 deposition in a civil lawsuit that she continues to suffer panic attacks and nightmares stemming from the 2004 assault in a university dorm room, according to the transcript obtained by the AP under the public records law. She said the university could have limited the damage to her future if administrators would have done more to help her recover emotionally and academically in the aftermath of the attack, the fall semester of her freshman year.

“Watching my friends graduate in 2008 was the hardest thing because that should have been me,” the woman, a 27-year-old single mother of two, testified. “I constantly think about how my life would have probably turned out a lot different if I was allowed the chance to finish out my semester.”

The deposition was days before state officials agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the woman’s lawsuit, which alleged the university’s treatment of her violated a federal law requiring universities to give equal educational opportunities to women. The university denied wrongdoing but says it has made numerous changes since 2004 to address sexual misconduct and help victims.

Her lawyer says the woman, whose identity is withheld under the AP’s policy of generally not identifying rape victims, agreed to the settlement because she wants to move on and is pleased with the changes.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which defended the university, had refused to release transcripts of depositions during the lawsuit, arguing they were not public records. The office released them last week in response to a renewed request from AP.

The woman says two freshmen players from Texas, Baylen Laury and Joseph Thomas, took turns assaulting her. Thomas pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse. Laury pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after jurors deadlocked on more serious charges. Both served prison terms.