JSU rape lawsuit set for 2021 trial

Pictured is Bibb Graves Hall at Jacksonville State University. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)Pictured is Bibb Graves Hall at Jacksonville State University. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Ashleigh Crouch, Correspondent

Federal Judge Annemarie Carnie Axon ordered both parties in the lawsuit against Jacksonville State University to be prepared for a trial to take place in October of 2021, which would be three years after the filing of the lawsuit and four years after the alleged accident took place.

In October 2019, a woman filed a lawsuit against the university after she alleged she was raped on the campus of Jacksonville State University in Logan Hall by former JSU basketball player Marlon Hunter. The woman, who was 17 at the time of the alleged event, was participating in an on-campus summer program.

Hunter transferred to JSU after an incident at Western Kentucky University (WKU) that led to him and two other players being removed from WKU’s basketball team. Prior to Hunter’s removal, his former WKU coach Ray Harper also transferred to JSU as the men’s basketball coach.

The lawsuit claims that university willfully and deliberately did not investigate the assault per Title IX, and in fact encouraged the victim not to pursue legal action. The university also allegedly violated the victim’s rights by not informing the victim’s mother of her assault for weeks after the initial incident.

Roger Appell, the attorney for the alleged victim, stated that it is fairly common for civil cases such as this one to take a long time to go to trial. He also stated that there is a possibility that the woman and JSU could reach a settlement agreement before the case goes to trial, but that it has not yet been discussed with JSU’s attorneys. 

Laura Dunn, an attorney who has previously represented survivors of sexual assault on campus, said that the majority of civil cases are settled before they reach their trial dates, and that there is more than a 90 percent chance that this case will be settled before then as well. 

“Litigation is expensive and normally a settlement is a compromise between the two parties,” said Dunn to the Anniston Star. 

According to Dunn, the average settlement for colleges accused of violating a plaintiff’s Title IX rights is $350,000. According to Appell the amount can potentially be higher if there is a strong enough case against the defendant, however.

In a different filing, the woman’s attorneys wrote that they are planning on seeking depositions from up to 20 people, including JSU officials, police and WKU officials who knew the reasons for Hunter’s transfer to JSU. 

Appell stated that he was unable to comment further on the case, and an attorney for JSU, Lisa Atkins, declined to comment.

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