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1.275 Million Title IX Settlement Paid by University of Arizona

A student at the University of Arizona (UA) claimed that football player Orlando Bradford physically abused her throughout their relationship. She reported the treatment to the Tucson police in September 2016. Bradford was actually arrested the day before her report, because a different woman had complained about physical abuse by Bradford as well. Bradford ultimately plead guilty to two counts of domestic violence related felonies and is serving a five-year prison sentence. The civil lawsuit filed in January 2018 alleged that UA knew that Bradford posed a risk to women on campus, but deliberately ignored the danger, violating the plaintiff’s Title IX rights. Title IX is a federal law that requires schools to provide students with an education free from sexual harassment, assault, or dating violence.

During discovery, a UA Title IX investigator produced a handwritten note from an athletic department employee detailing a meeting she had with two students, both of whom reported Bradford’s abuse of the plaintiff and of one of their friends. The note was dated nearly six months before Bradford’s arrest. The other student mentioned in the note reported Bradford to UA police for harassing her in April 2016, a few weeks after her friends spoke with the UA employee (as described in the note). The UA police report characterized the situation as a “volatile relationship” in which Bradford hit and choked her. The note was emailed to the dean of students and to a Title IX investigator, but it’s unclear what was done with the information after that. The school was therefore aware that Bradford was generally violent, and specifically violent toward the plaintiff, and yet took no action to prevent further violence.

After the discovery of the note, both parties filed motions for summary judgment. In February 2020, the district court ruled that the UA had knowledge of Bradford’s abuse and demonstrated deliberate indifference, leaving to the jury the question of whether Bradford’s behavior impacted the student’s educational experience. Rather than face a jury on that question, the parties settled the matter for the unprecedented sum of $1.275 million, and due to the high amount, the settlement required approval by the Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee.