NORMAN, Okla. — A graduate of the University of Oklahoma has added a negligence claim to his lawsuit against the university, former Vice President Tripp Hall III and the Board of Regents for the University of Oklahoma.
In June, 25-year-old Levi Hilliard filed a tort claim against the university and officials over alleged sexual misconduct.
According to court documents, Hilliard claims he was sexually assaulted by Hall on at least five occasions dating back to the fall of 2017 through September 2018.
One incident allegedly occurred on February 17, 2018, during a university event at the Sam Noble Museum when Hall “was visibly intoxicated.” Hilliard claims Hall approached the bar where he was working and proceeded “to consume wine directly from an open bottle that was being used for pouring glasses of wine for attendees,” before walking around behind the bar and “leaned in for a kiss on the cheek”.
The claim states Hilliard “leaned away” but claims Hall “then used his hands to pull [Hilliard] closer and forcibly kissed [Hilliard] on his neck.”
“As Defendant Hall walked away, he said, ‘Yeah, that’s the stuff,'” according to court documents.
Hilliard also alleges Hall “intentionally inflicted severe and prolonged emotional distress” against him.
In a new court filing that was released on Thursday, it states that Hilliard has a right to file a lawsuit against the Board since it has been more than 90 days since the tort claim was filed and no response was ever received.
The filing also states that Hilliard is seeking damages for negligence on the university's part, saying that officials allowed the alleged sexual abuse to continue. “Whether people didn’t protect my client because of fear, because of fear of their jobs," Hilliard's attorney Rand Eddy told News 4. "The most important duty of someone at Oklahoma, whether it’s a faculty member or administration, is to protect the students."
The lawsuit alleges that Hilliard "requested an audience with his supervisors to discuss Defendant Hall's acts, expressing his desire to advance his complaint(s)." However, it states that no one reported the actions to OU's Title IX office.
Court documents claim that the lack of action was "in breach of OU's written policy but in accordance with OU's standing practice of stifling, deliberate indifference, and subversion of complaints or complainants that involved allegations against Defendant Hall."
"Upon information and belief, current and former OU employees, the Board's officer(s) or its agent(s) were aware of Defendant Hall's history of perpetrating sexual misconduct and tortious acts but were discouraged from reporting or failed to report or remedy such for fear of retaliation by senior officials," the lawsuit alleges.
It goes on to say, "Senior-most OU officials' failure to report had a chilling effect on the ability of others to report or otherwise remedy ongoing patters of sexual misconduct and other forms of misconduct. This amounted to tacit permission for misconduct among the administration, namely in the General Counsel's failure to report to his direct-report, the Board itself, and instilled a culture of fear that protected former President David Boren and Defendant Hall in the commission of misconduct."
Hilliard's attorney says that Board knew that Hall consumed "alcohol to the point of excess and substantial intoxication" but did nothing to stop it. “Unless something changes, unless these people open their eyes, unless they start doing their jobs," Eddy said. "It’s going to happen again and again.”
Hilliard is seeking relief of $175,000 for the alleged sexual assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional duress and negligence.
Hilliard’s attorney Rand Eddy sent this statement:
“It is clear the OU administration was negligent in allowing for the conduct of Tripp Hall toward my client. Mr. Hilliard seeks justice not only for himself, but for others.”
News 4 reached out to the University of Oklahoma and received this response:
"The University has been made aware that the plaintiff has made another amendment to his petition in litigation that has been ongoing. The practice of the University is not to comment on ongoing litigation."