The Nebraska State College System has agreed to pay $900,000 to settle lawsuits related to the suicide five years ago of a Chadron State softball player.

Fatima Larios, 19, killed herself in a Chadron State dormitory closet on Jan. 31, 2015.

Fatima Larios

Fatima Larios

Her parents, Lissette Larios Roohbakhsh and Nelson Larios, alleged in lawsuits in state and federal courts that Chadron State and its Title IX office failed to intervene adequately in an allegedly abusive relationship between the young woman and her boyfriend from high school, who had become a Chadron State football player.

One of the lawyers for the parents, Christopher Welsh of Omaha, said the settlement agreement is "unique" because of the non-monetary measures agreed to by the college. 

Besides the payout, Chadron State said it would install a campus memorial for the young woman, valued up to $25,000; award a "Fatima Larios Spirit Scholarship" to a member of the women's softball team for at least the next 10 years; and conduct annual suicide prevention training for students and staffers for at least the next 10 years.

The state college also will accept technical assistance with regard to Title IX policies and procedures; send the parents a letter of condolence from Chadron State President Randy Rhine; allow the mother and two other family members to see the room where the woman died; and continue looking for Larios' missing softball glove and jerseys.  

Larios' parents and the Nebraska State College System signed the agreement last month. 

George Martin III, one of the attorneys representing the college, said the defendants had reason to feel confident about winning a jury trial. But Martin said if the college had lost, it would have been responsible for exorbitant attorneys' fees. Further, he said, neither the college nor the family cared to endure the trauma of a trial.

Martin, of Omaha, said of the non-monetary concessions: "We were happy to do that and again, that was aimed at bringing some closure for the family."

Welsh said the plaintiffs also felt confident about taking the matter to trial. But neither side wanted it to go that far.

The parents agreed in the settlement not to hold the college liable for their daughter's death. Under the terms of the settlement, Chadron State acknowledges no wrongdoing. Another of the family's attorneys, Adele Kimmel of Washington, D.C., said it is "exceedingly rare for any defendant to admit wrongdoing as part of a settlement."

Larios, who was 19, was in her sophomore year at Chadron State. She took her life in a closet in her boyfriend's dormitory room. She had played four sports for her Catholic high school in the Monterey, California, area.

Judi Yorges, spokeswoman for the state college system, said in a written statement: "Like many colleges and universities, we have also been confronted with issues of dating violence and suicide. We commit significant resources to meet those challenges, and this settlement offers us the opportunity to work with the family to not only honor Fatima but to continue to bring awareness to the issues ... "

Lawsuits filed in state and federal courts in Nebraska said some of Larios' teammates noticed bruises on her and reported this to coaches, who reported it on up. Teammates also allegedly said Larios told them she was being beaten.

Students in the dormitory had heard loud altercations numerous times between the couple, the suits say. The Title IX office attempted to reach Larios but failed to meet face-to-face with her, the suits say.

World-Herald staff writer Paul Hammel contributed to this report.

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