Settlement reached in Title IX lawsuit

The lawsuit filed against Allegheny College by a former student for Title IX violations, negligence and emotional, mental and physical distress was settled Aug. 25, in a mediation session in the United States Western District Court in Erie.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the mediation statement.

The suit filed in Feb. 2020, claimed that Samantha Simonetta, ’21, a former Allegheny football team member, received “unwelcome sexual advances toward her during football practices.” The suit also claimed that Simonetta disclosed this information to former Head Assistant Coach Curtis Bailey. The suit claimed Bailey notified Simonetta that former Head Coach William Hammer would be notified of the situation, and Simonetta trusted this agreement, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also alleged Simonetta faced gender-based discrimination during the spring 2018 semester and continued into the summer.

“Spring football practices resumed in March 2018,” the lawsuit stated. “At that time, Ms. Simonetta was provided with a practice jersey but was not given access to a locker room. Furthermore, she was not assigned a jersey number like her male teammates.”

The suit claimed that in April 2018, Simonetta had a grade point average “sufficient for her to remain eligible to participate (on the football team),” but Bailey placed Simonetta on academic probation. The suit also alleged this was in violation of the college’s athletic policies.

In July 2018, Bailey emailed Simonetta and suggested that she serve as a team manager instead of a player, according to the suit.

The suit stated that in August 2018, Simonetta and her parents met with Hammer, Bailey, Director of Athletics and Recreation Bill Ross, Assistant Coach Andrew Fragale and Nikki Newman, a “Third Party Witness to the incidents alleged in the Complaint.” The suit alleged that, though Bailey had informed Simonetta that he relayed the information to Hammer, “it was ultimately revealed during this meeting that this was a lie.”

In fall 2018, according to the suit, Simonetta “learned that other members of the College’s faculty were aware of previous incidents of sexual misconduct by the perpetrating teammate.” Simonetta then “formally pursued action through the College against this student, ultimately resulting in a finding on Dec. 17, 2018, that her former teammate had violated the College’s Policy Against Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment, Including: Sexual Assault and Other Forms of Sexual Violence, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence and Stalking.”

The college offered the following statement regarding the settlement: “As noted on the Court’s docket, the parties have resolved the matter, and the terms of the resolution are confidential.”