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Sex assault lawsuit against University of Idaho can advance

The University of Idaho campus. File photo

A federal judge is allowing a student athlete’s lawsuit alleging the University of Idaho placed her at a higher risk of sexual assault to move forward.

In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Nye said former diver Mairin Jameson can sue over allegations the school mishandled previous complaints against a football player who later assaulted Jameson.

But the judge said Jameson’s claim that the school also mishandled her own report of sexual assault in 2013 was past the statute of limitations and must be dismissed.

University of Idaho spokeswoman Jodi Walker declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Associated Press doesn’t generally name people who say they’re victims of sex assault, but Jameson’s attorney said she wanted to be identified.

Lawyer Brook Cunningham said Jameson was pleased by the ruling.

“I think the heightened risk claim is the most important claim,” Cunningham said Thursday. “They could have avoided a sexual assault of one of their students had they properly responded.”

The previous complaints against the football player included a student who was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning and severe bruising around her neck. He was cited for providing alcohol to minors.

Another student athlete said the football player harassed and threatened her.

Jameson said he sexually assaulted her on April 21, 2013, and she reported it to police four days later. The Moscow Police Department notified school athletic officials, and together they determined the player “was not a threat.”

The athletic department didn’t notify the dean of students or offer Jameson any support or counseling, the lawsuit says.

A few weeks later, Jameson reported the assault to the UI Women’s Center, triggering a disciplinary investigation against the football player. Still, Jameson says she was never informed of her rights and got nothing to help her in the aftermath of the assault.

In October 2013, the university concluded it was “more likely than not” that the football player had violated the school’s code of conduct by assaulting and harassing Jameson and intimidating another female student. He was expelled.

An investigation by The Idaho Statesman helped expose the way the university handled the complaints against the football player.

The university commissioned an independent investigation, and the State Board of Education fired longtime athletic director Rob Spear last year after reviewing that report.

Former University of Idaho President Chuck Staben acknowledged in a statement to the newspaper last year that the school possibly could have prevented Jameson’s assault if officials had properly addressed the previous complaints.

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