Lawsuit claims more assaults by ex-Rust prof

By Patsy R. Brumfield

Daily Journal

HOLLY SPRINGS – An unnamed former Rust College student wants $75 million damages from a federal lawsuit stemming from an alleged sexual assault by a professor in 2012.

The damages total and expanded allegations against Dr. Sylvester Oliver and the Holly Springs college were detailed Monday in a proposed amended complaint the plaintiff’s attorney asked the court to accept.

The 24-page document also claims that Oliver committed numerous other sexual assaults and advances on female students and faculty during his two stints at Rust, and that its president, Dr. David Beckley, and other administrators knew or should have known of their occurrences.

Besides the plaintiff, the complaint alleges at least eight other incidents involving Oliver.

The ex-student plaintiff, called “Jane Doe,” in the first filing Aug. 28, insists that her rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 were violated by the alleged assaults because, she claims, the United Methodist Church-affiliated school and Beckley failed to act so that she could participate and not be discriminated against in her educational pursuits.

The proposed complaint also lists six counts against Rust College and Oliver, including sexual battery and vicarious liability, negligence, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, premises liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Soon after the first complaint was filed, a Rust spokesman denied all the woman’s accusations.

In the proposed filing, she said that she reported the incident to the Holly Springs Police Department, and on Oct. 2, 2012, Oliver was indicted on a sexual battery charge. He has not yet come to trial.

Rust’s attorney, Mitchell Driskell III of Oxford, a few weeks ago asked the court to delay the lawsuit until Sylvester’s criminal case is completed.

The federal case is before Presiding U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills, who will decide if the amended complaint will be allowed.

Last Friday, the college’s attorneys asked the court to file the anticipated amendment under seal or at least limit access to attorneys because of the “highly inflammatory accusations” it likely would contain.

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