After a Title IX investigation cleared him of wrongdoing, the ex-girlfriend of an Oklahoma running back lashed out at the school on Twitter for not taking her claims seriously. The episode is another instance of the vague and disturbing scope of Title IX, dating violence, and sexual harassment on campus.
Title IX Investigation Clears Oklahoma Running Back
In May 2019, a female student at Oklahoma University filed a Title IX complaint against Kennedy Brooks, a star running back on the school's nationally-ranked football team. In the complaint, she claimed that Brooks was physically abusive during their dating relationship, which lasted from June 2018 into March 2019.
Some of the things she recounted in her complaint included:
- Pictures of bruises allegedly left by Brooks. In a text message to the girl, Brooks apparently said, “I should not have to put my hands on you to move.”
- Brooks letting himself into her apartment after they had broken up, using a key that she didn't know he had.
- Brooks allegedly cheating on her for someone who was still in high school.
She did not report any of these incidents to the police and had initially been uneasy with reporting them to OU's Title IX office because of the effect it would have on Brooks' career.
When she did file the complaint, Title IX policy required that Brooks be suspended from the football team's summer activities. On July 9, 2019, the Title IX investigation cleared Brooks of wrongdoing. It did, however, reschedule several of his classes so he wouldn't be in the same classes as the girl who'd made the complaint.
Complainant Lashes Out on Twitter
After the Title IX investigation concluded, the complainant lashed out on Twitter for what she saw was a miscarriage of justice. Standing by her story that she'd been “manipulated and abused both mentally and physically,” she claimed that the school had found in Brooks' favor because he was on the football team.
Sexual Harassment and Dating Violence
Even assuming that everything the complainant said is true, the ordeal raises some important questions about where Title IX ends.
Abusive relationships are serious problems, and domestic violence laws provide a legal avenue for victims to get restraining orders and for abusers to potentially even face criminal charges.
But for allegations of dating violence that happen on a college campus, Title IX can require the school to step in and handle the situation whenever it impacts a student's educational experience. As soon as it impacts a student's education, it becomes the “sexual misconduct” that amounts to the “sex discrimination” that Title IX forbids.
In this case, and again assuming that everything the complainant said is true – something that the Title IX office did not seem to do – she seems to have been in a bad relationship. But what does that entitle her to and what penalties should Kennedy Brooks face? From her Twitter tirade, she seems to think that he should be expelled. Clearly, separating them by rescheduling his classes didn't suffice.
If that's the penalty she feels entitled to for being “manipulated and abused both mentally and physically,” we should really be bothered by how far Title IX has come.