Rower from Hockaday was raped by University of Kansas football … – Dallas Morning News (blog)
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former Hockaday student and varsity rower at the University of Kansas claims in a lawsuit that she was raped by a Kansas football player 16 months ago. Afterward, the lawsuit said, the university failed to protect her from harassment by her attacker.
The suit was filed in Kansas by the parents of Daisy Tackett, who enrolled at KU as a freshman in the fall of 2014. In November of that year, the suit says, she was raped in a university dorm that housed many members of the football team and other athletes.
Generally, The Dallas Morning News does not identify rape victims by name, but in an extensive interview last month, Tackett asked that her name be used. Her parents’ suit, filed as a class action, said the university, “in its attempts to solicit students to enroll,” has repeatedly lied by claiming that its residence halls are safe. As a result, it suggested, countless students have fallen victim to sexual predators.
“What happened to our daughter need not have happened to any other student,” Amanda Tackett, Daisy’s mother, said in an interview.
In a written statement issued Friday, the university denied that it lied to anyone about the security of its campus and dorms. It boasted of KU’s “ongoing efforts to ensure students are safe and aware of their surroundings” and of the school’s “robust support services” for victims of sexual violence.
“The suggestion that our residence halls are unsafe or that we misrepresent campus safety in our student recruitment is baseless,” the statement said.
The Tacketts’ lawsuit does not identify the football player alleged to have assaulted their daughter, nor does it indicate whether anyone was arrested or prosecuted in the matter.
Daisy Tackett, now 20, withdrew from KU in January. She and her parents live in Florida.
Sixteen months ago, Daisy Tackett said, she was eager to begin her athletic career as a Jayhawk rower. As a freshman, she was pursuing a double major and serving in the student senate.
After a party in early November of 2014, she said, she was raped by a member of the football team in the Jayhawker Towers Apartments, a university-owned dorm.
The Tacketts’ lawsuit said Jayhawker Towers “has a specific history of publicly reported sexual assaults of women.”
Without providing names or many details, the suit listed eight instances in the past three years of reports of sexual crimes, ranging from fondling to rape to sexual battery. In two cases, it said, KU football players were arrested.
“We found an appalling level of violence, sexual violence and crimes against students on the campus.” Amanda Tackett said.
If so, KU is hardly alone. Sexual violence on U.S. college campuses — sometimes by athletes, many times not — has become a topic of intense scrutiny. Baylor, Florida State, Oregon and Tennessee, among others, have had to deal with sexual-assault scandals involving athletes.
Daisy Tackett said the football player who attacked her was still harassing her on campus a year later.
She said members of the KU rowing staff “made me feel I wasn’t welcome on the team to which they recruited me because I reported this.”
As a high school student at The Hockaday School, an elite private girls’ school in North Dallas, Daisy Tackett said, she found rowing to be a relaxing outlet.
“I just had a knack,” Tackett said. “I had a lot of power and raw strength.”
According to Athletic.net, a website that tracks high school athletes nationwide, she was also a shotputter and discuss thrower on Hockaday’s track and field team.
She would have graduated with the Class of 2014, but moved to Florida midway through her junior year.
She said she fell in love with KU on a recruiting visit.
On the night she was attacked — barely three months into her freshman year — she attended an off-campus party, where, she said, the raucous behavior and use of drugs made her uncomfortable. She decided to leave. That was when a football player suggested that they go to his apartment at Jayhawker Towers and watch a video.
Inside the apartment, he raped her and forced her to perform oral sex, she said.
“I’m strong. I tried my best to get the kid off me,” said Tackett, who is 5-10 and 190 pounds.
“I freaked out,” she said. “It’s not like some stranger, abducting me and raping me in a stairwell. I was thinking this can’t be.”
She went to a friend’s apartment to compose herself and shower.
At first, she did not report the attack to authorities.
“I told two people that day and then kind of dropped it,” Tackett said. “I knew that no one was going to believe it.”
She continued to see her assailant on campus, she said. He would sometimes yell at her, once publicly calling her “that bitch.”
She said she started experiencing panic attacks.
Daisy finally came forward to KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, which is charged with overseeing compliance with state and federal laws and university policies on discrimination, sexual violence and other subjects.
She made that decision, she said, after learning that the same football player tried to assault a rowing teammate this past fall. That was the first time she told her parents about the rape.
“At first I was reluctant,” she said. “Then I realized if he’s assaulted two people, he has assaulted more or will assault more if we don’t do anything about it.”
After coming forward, she said, she felt ostracized. She was left behind when the rowing team made a training trip to Florida.
The IOA seemed slow to provide promised escorts to class or campus parking passes, she said.
“They made it so difficult to access the resources they had,” she said. “For the last three weeks of semester, I locked myself in my room. I would leave just to practice and go to class.”
By January, she’d had enough. She left KU and returned to Florida.
“She worked so hard for the academic and athletic scholarships, it’s devastating to see how much she lost,” her mother said.
But Daisy said being gone from Kansas is a relief.
“No one is following me around campus,” she said. “No one is stalking me.”