University Not Responsible for Off-Campus Assaults
March 24, 2022
In January, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the University of Arizona could not be held responsible for off-campus assaults in Brown v. State of Arizona et al. In 2016 Brown, a female student, reported that Orlando Bradford, a University of Arizona football player, assaulted her multiple times in his off-campus apartment. Brown sued the University of Arizona, claiming the school violated her rights under Title IX and was deliberately indifferent to the assault when the University allowed Bradford to stay on campus.
Brown argued that the University could have prevented her assaults because they had actual knowledge that Bradford assaulted other women on school property. In his dissenting opinion, Judge Fletcher argued that the University had “substantial control” because Bradford required University approval to live in off-campus housing and used school scholarships to pay for it. But the majority disagreed. Judge Forrest explained that under Title IX, universities are liable for student-on-student harassment where an “educational institution exercises substantial control over both the harasser and the context in which the [harassment] occurs.” Because Brown was not assaulted during a school activity, on school property, and did not visit Bradford’s apartment for a “school related purpose,” the court ruled that the University did not have substantial control over Bradford’s apartment. The 9th Circuit ultimately concluded that “while [the University] had exercised control over Bradford,” Title IX did not apply to “off-campus actions.”
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