Iowa State faces lawsuit over sexual assault policies

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa State University administrator is suing the school, saying it gives students accused of sexual assault more protection than victims.

The lawsuit filed by Robinette Kelley alleges the university blocked her attempts to properly investigate sexual assault complaints and stopped her from ensuring the university was Title IX compliant.

Kelley was hired as the university's equal opportunity director and federal Title IX coordinator in 2013 and served in the position for more than two years, The Des Moines Register reported .

Kelley alleges the university tried to intimidate her and coerce her into ignoring her compliance concerns. The lawsuit alleges that the university stopped her from enforcing no-contact orders, removing alleged perpetrators from dorms near their accusers or providing academic accommodations for accusers.

"Ms. Kelley is bringing this claim to help all universities understand the important role of the Title IX Coordinator in ensuring equality and responses to sexual assault," Kelley's attorney, Thomas Newkirk, wrote in an email.

Title IX allows universities to investigate sexual assault complaints as civil rights violations.

The lawsuit is requesting that the university be required to develop a strategic plan for sex discrimination-related cases and to allow the Title IX coordinator to act independently from other university officials, including in-house attorneys and administrators.

University spokesman John McCarroll denies that Kelley was treated "in any way that was retaliatory, discriminatory, or otherwise illegal."

The university is constantly working to improve campus culture, eliminate sexual violence, encourage the reporting of sexual misconduct and support survivors, McCarroll said.

Kelley was fired in October 2015. She now works at North Carolina State University as the associate vice chancellor for equal opportunity and deputy Title IX coordinator.

Kelley's lawsuit was filed on Oct. 12, nine hours after former Iowa State student Emily Black filed a lawsuit alleging Kelley and campus police failed to investigate her sexual assault complaint.