ISU Overhauls Sexual Violence Protocol as Former Student Settles Case

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AMES, Iowa  --  Iowa State University is hoping to change the culture on campus by overhauling how sexual assault cases are handled.

At the same time, a former student just settled a lawsuit claiming the school mishandled her 2015 case; that claim was settled in court on Monday for $47,500.

Taylor Neisen claims she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity house in 2015. In a 17-page lawsuit, Neisen claims ISU failed to protect her from retaliation and alleges once her rape kit came back positive, the school did not expel or suspend the assailant.

Thomas Newkirk, the attorney who represented the former student, says all his client wanted was change and that the lawsuit was not about money.

“The reason why Taylor is such a great kid is because, like many of these young women, she is devastated by this whole thing, but at some point she wants to move on with her life and she wants to be part of a positive change. And that's more important to her than an extra couple hundred grand," he said.

Prior to the settlement, ISU says the school was already in the process of overhauling its sexual violence protocol.

“I have a real sense that Iowa State is going to do something different and they are not only willing to make progress today, but where they are willing to go over the next year or two, I think, will be extraordinary," Newkirk said.

ISU did not provide a comment when Channel 13 asked about the possible changes, but told the Des Moines Register they could include launching a sexual misconduct prevention initiative and new training for all faculty and staff.

That is welcome news to one student.

“Especially in a campus this size in a town like this, I’m sure all sorts of stuff is going on behind the scenes that we don't hear about, and it's good that the college is talking a stance on it," said student Robert Weber.

A climate survey conducted last month found 11% of ISU students had experienced unwanted sexual contact or conduct.

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