By Tabitha Harris,
Domestic News Writer
Sexual assault has been rampant on college campuses across the country, or so it would appear from numerous reports over the past few months and years. Yet another case has cropped up with a celebrity attached to the report: Peyton Manning. While several events have recently occurred at the University of Tennessee which fall into the category of sexual assault, Manning’s alleged involvement in a particular case has also surfaced in the news.
Six women in attendance at UT condemned the institution’s apparent indifference toward their allegations and their frustration has culminated in a lawsuit against the university. The women cited the violation of their Title IX rights as the main catalyst for the suit. Title IX is a 1972 amendment which prohibits sexual discrimination at any federally funded education program or activity. Under this definition, the women maintain that UT has created a “hostile sexual environment” by ignoring claims of sexual assault made by various individuals.
The current suit centers on five purported rapes of female students between 2013 and 2015. However, the plaintiffs persist in utilizing cases from the mid-1990s, including one with Peyton Manning, to further buttress their complaint. Along with citing the sexual assault cases as evidence, the six women have gone one step further, accusing the university administration of sexism and a pattern of “grossly inadequate discipline and resolution in favor of male ‘major-sports athletes’” when it comes to the sexual assault charges.
Essentially, UT’s indifference implies favoritism towards men. According to the complaint, the favoritism includes eliminating and interfering in disciplinary action for men as well as veiling charges and investigations which involve male athletes.
Manning entered the picture due to an incident 20-years-ago when he allegedly exposed himself to Dr. Jamie Naughright while she was examining his injury.
However, Manning stated that he was “mooning” a teammate. The police never became involved in the incident, yet Naughright sued UT which resulted in her departure from the university and no charges for Manning. The six women, who remain unnamed, have cited Manning as background to their present case and argue that he is not the focal point of the case but they are merely using the past incident as evidence. Be that as it may, the football star’s name mentioned in conjunction with the present suit has caused a bit of confusion.
Bill Polian, former Indianapolis Colts general manager and president who drafted Manning, labelled the female accusers victims adding to the confusion and tension surrounding the lawsuit. Polian declared that the suit “fits the definition of a smear…plain and simple”; an attempt to tarnish the name of an individual in good standing by digging up dirt from their past. He further demeaned the case by attributing selfish motives to the plaintiffs. According to Polian, the whole affair is merely “an attempt to gain notoriety for others by smearing a good person”.
UT has responded to the allegations by boldly negating any reports of indifference and violations of Title IX. Bill Ramsey, the lawyer acting on UT’s behalf, said in a statement that “any assertion that we do not take sexual assault seriously enough is simply not true” and the Tennessee officials “acted lawfully and in good faith” in response to the accusations. Time will tell the fallout of the lawsuit against the University of Tennessee.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 23rd print edition.
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