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Updated 7:21 PM ET, Wed July 21, 2021

(CNN)Liberty University has been sued by 12 women who claim the school created an environment on its Virginia campus that increased the likelihood of sexual assault and rape.

The lawsuit includes claims of sexual assault and accuses the Lynchburg school of creating a hostile environment toward the plaintiffs.
The university also promoted attacks on and discrimination against women through a series of policies that discouraged sex before marriage and punished those who reported misconduct, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs, who are not named in the lawsuit, include women who were students or employees at the university and one non-student who was a minor at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.
They are referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Doe numbers 1-12 and are seeking a jury trial to determine damages, according to the complaint filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday.
According to the complaint, the school created the environment in three ways:
First, the lawsuit alleges the “The Liberty Way” which is the school’s student honor code, makes it difficult to report sexual violence because it doesn’t clearly shield students making the reports from punishment for infractions, including being at a place where alcohol is served — or being alone with a member of the opposite sex.
Second, there is a tacit policy that condones sexual violence, particularly by male student athletes, by weighing a denial more heavily than an allegation, the lawsuit claims.
Third, the plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit that the school engages in public and repeated retaliation against women who have reported sexual violence.
“Liberty University has intentionally created a campus environment where sexual assaults and rapes are foreseeably more likely to occur than they would in the absence of Liberty’s policies,” the lawsuit states.
CNN reached out to Liberty University for comment, but has not received a response. In a statement to CNN, Liberty University called the allegations “deeply troubling, if they turn out to be true.”
“Many of the claims are the complete opposite of how the University’s policies and procedures were designed to operate over the years,” the University said in the statement. “Liberty has invested mightily in programs and personnel to help maintain a safe campus and to support any and all victims of sexual assault who came forward.”
The school said it would look into each allegation and that it has a “robust non-discrimination policy, which includes an amnesty policy to encourage victims to make reports without fearing that their involvement in other activities like drinking alcohol or extramarital sex will be disciplined under the student honor code.”
“That policy includes a fair process for resolving disputes about rape, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation, as well as providing supportive measures as appropriate,” the statement to WDBJ said.

Lawsuit: Policy discouraged reporting

Some plaintiffs involved in the complaint said they were discouraged from reporting assault allegations because they would be admitting their own violations of the Liberty Way policy.
Instead of being encouraged to report, some plaintiffs alleged they were told they would be subject to “discipline that could include expulsion,” the lawsuit states…
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