A decision could be made in a Title IX case against Iowa State as early as February


Beardshear Hall in September 2016.

K. Rambo

Several Title IX cases are open against Iowa State, where the university is accused of mishandling responses to sexual assault.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Helen C. Adams heard arguments Friday in Melissa Maher vs. Iowa State University during a motion for summary hearing requested by attorney Derek T. Teeter on behalf of Iowa State.

Teeter is a partner at Husch Blackwell, a corporate law firm in Kansas City, Missouri that was hired by Iowa State to represent the university in this — and two other — Title IX cases.

Adams said she will make her decision on whether or not the case will go to trial in February. If the judge elects not to rule, a trial date is set for May 7.

Maher’s case gained notoriety last year when details began to be published during Patrick Whetstone’s case. The university eventually concluded that Whetstone was guilty and he was subsequently removed from campus and expelled from Iowa State. Whetstone pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit sex abuse and Story County Judge James McGlynn gave him two years of probation and no prison time.

A statement of facts filed by the plaintiff say that investigators found “Whetstone engaged in vaginal intercourse, oral sex and digital penetration of the vagina without affirmative consent during the early morning of March 30, 2014.”

Court documents show Maher was living in an apartment with entrances 150 feet away from where Whetstone resided.

The main complaint alleged by Maher is that Iowa State offered Maher two housing options as an alternative to her apartment in Frederiksen Court that were not acceptable. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Iowa State offered Maher temporary residence in a hotel where she would be removed in a matter of weeks for the Iowa State football team, or permanent residence in a converted den where she would have roomed with several individuals.

Maher rejected temporary housing and also rejected the option where she would have roommates she did not know because she did not feel safe in that situation, court documents showed.

Maher saw her attacker at least twice a week for 10 weeks, even finding herself on the same bus as him on the way to class, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Iowa State officials elected not to ask Whetstone to move during the investigation despite former Title IX Director Robinette Kelley’s recommendation that Whetstone be moved, although Teeter disagrees with this assertion in a response to a statement of facts.

In Kelley’s deposition, she said “…I felt that [Patrick Whetstone] should be removed. At the time, I was also told that he was not [being removed] — by [former Dean of Students Pamela Anthony] and others that he wasn’t being removed because we didn’t have a report and we didn’t have a finding of responsibility and that the practice was not to move respondents prior to them being found responsible. So I … discussed my dissatisfaction with that with [former Chief of Staff and Chief Financial Officer Miles Lackey.]”

Kelley added that she felt Lackey sided with Anthony after he spoke with Anthony.

Maher’s attorney Andrew J. Zbaracki described Iowa State’s treatment of his client as “callous” in court on Friday.

Zbaracki alleges that the university chose to allow Whetstone to remain a student and live in close proximity to Maher after the university had found that Whetstone was guilty.

Maher eventually withdrew from Iowa State as her PTSD grew unmanageable.

Teeter argued that the university’s response was “reasonable” and did not meet the Title IX standard of “deliberate indifference.”

Teeter also argued that the suit was brought past the statute of limitations, although there was no consensus reached between attorneys on when the time frame for limitations should have started.