By Alexis Sokach
Multiple claims have been brought in a lawsuit against the University of Vermont alleging the mishandling of various sexual assault accusations. On December 6, 2022, Kendall Ware, a former Division I swimmer at UVM, filed a civil lawsuit against the university. Ware asserts that she was raped by Anthony Lamb, a former UVM basketball star, and a current forward for the Golden State Warriors. Along with Ware in this lawsuit are two other female plaintiffs who claim they were sexually assaulted in separate incidents while they were students at the University of Vermont. All three women assert that the school “ignored known and obvious conditions that substantially increased the Plaintiffs’ risk of campus sexual assault by fellow students.” The court documents detail allegations against the school, its board of trustees, and six employees, Jeff Schulman, UVM’s Athletic Director included.
The claims also emphasize the university’s and the university officials’ violation of constitutional right to equal protection, federal Title IX protections against discrimination on the basis of sex and the Vermont Public Accommodations Act.
Ware reported the alleged sexual assault, along with two others involving Lamb, the next month to UVM’s Title IX office. Ware claims that she was dissuaded from seeking a formal investigation by multiple university employees, including Schulman. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Burlington, states that Schulman and other employees also misled Ware about the available remedies as well as the potential consequences for Lamb. Schulman met with Ware while the Title IX process unfolded and Ware disclosed in the claims that it, “did not feel like Schulman expressed any concern about her assault, and he was clearly focused on not losing his prize asset, Lamb.”
The complaint details Ware’s mental state about the situation, “In such a small state, to many, Lamb was a bona fide celebrity both on and off campus. Ware was afraid of the repercussions of reporting him to the school authorities, let alone to the police.”
Ware, after reporting the incident to her coaches, administration, and athletic department, was told by a campus victim advocate that she had two options: pursue a formal investigation or file a police report. A Title IX investigator, however, informed Ware that she had a third option, an informal resolution process that would take less time but could not result in consequences for Lamb beyond counseling. Ware restated her desire for the formal investigation because she felt that was “the only way she could get what she sought: punishment proportionate to the wrong: justice for herself; and protection for fellow female students.”
The persuasion out of the claim worsened. Ware’s mother had a conversation with the UVM athletic department’s associate athletic director for external relations and communications, Krista Balogh. Balogh impressed upon her that the formal investigation would result in Lamb’s “immediate and indefinite suspension” and that such punishment would be unfair to Lamb’s teammates. Ware grew anxious that the campus community would blame her for causing UVM’s star player to miss basketball games. Ware instead chose the informal proceedings to avoid being ostracized on campus. About a month later, Ware and Lamb signed a resolution agreement that resolved the investigation “without making any finding as to whether he violated UVM policy.” The stipulations of the contract stated that Lamb had to complete a “healthy masculine identity program,” among other minor penalizations.
Lamb, although not a defendant in the case, released the following statement to KNTV, “The allegations made against me in 2019 that have recently resurfaced are patently false. I have always been fully cooperative regarding the alleged incident and have welcomed any investigation into the matter. Simply put, I have never committed sexual assault.” The Warriors also stated, “Anthony is not a defendant in this recent lawsuit and, to our knowledge, he has never been charged with any wrongdoing in any legal case. Prior to signing Anthony in September, we did our due diligence with the NBA and his prior teams, as we do with all players. If any new information comes to light, we will certainly evaluate it and act accordingly.”
Apparently, these mishandling claims are not new to the University of Vermont. UVM students have previously staged protests and walk outs about the university’s poor handling of sexual violence. Students have also created an Instagram account that circulates anonymous stories of sexual assault on campus. In 2021, the student activism surrounding the assault mishandlings prompted the university to have a consultant review its policies and procedures around Title IX.
One of the other plaintiffs asserts that she was drugged at an off-campus party attended by fraternity members. At the party, she became incoherent and woke up the next day in her own bed covered in bruises, caked in dirt, and with “the distinct physical sensation that something had roughly touched her vagina the night prior.” The plaintiff confided in a university official, a deputy Title IX coordinator, who told her he would alert the Title IX office and that someone would be in touch within a week, but no one ever contacted her. The plaintiff later found out that the Title IX office had learned of her assault and chose not to take any action.
The third plaintiff attended a party where she met a member of the UVM club tennis team. After blacking out she regained consciousness while the club tennis player was having sex with her. After hearing about the Title IX offices previous mishandling of a case that included the same assailant, the plaintiff chose not to work with the Title IX office on her claim.
All three plaintiffs assert in their complaint that as a result of UVM’s inadequate handling of these incidents they have suffered profound mental and physical distress that has interfered with their academic and personal lives.
Derek Brouwer & Chelsea Edgar, Lawsuit: UVM Mishandled Rape Allegation Against Basketball Star Anthony Lamb, Seven Days (Dec. 13, 2022), https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/lawsuit-uvm-mishandled-rape-allegation-against-basketball-star-anthony-lamb/Content?oid=37097413.
Tyler Boronski, Lawsuit claims UVM mishandled multiple sexual assault accusations, NBC5 (Dec. 9, 2022), https://www.mynbc5.com/article/lawsuit-claims-uvm-mishandled-multiple-sexual-assault-accusations/42192735#.
Jenna Lemoncelli, Warriors’ Anthony Lamb accused of rape in suit against University of Vermont, N.Y. Post (Dec. 9, 2022), https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/warriors-anthony-lamb-accused-of-rape-in-lawsuit/.