A former senior associate athletics director at Arizona State University says he was fired after reporting sexual harassment of three women by a prominent booster.
In a $1.5 million lawsuit, ASU athletics director Ray Anderson is accused of trying to cover up the behavior of Bart Wear, an alumnus and significant donor to men's and women's teams by firing David Cohen, the form senior associate who reported the behavior.
Cohen says that Wear sexually harassed Cohen’s wife, Kathy, and two other women. Specifically, Cohen claims that his wife was trying to pass by Wear in the aisle on her way to the restroom at an ASU basketball game on March 14 at the Pac-12 men's tournament in Las Vegas. Wear allegedly put his hands on her waist, moved them up the side of her body to the sides of her breasts and said, "Dave is lucky to have you."
According to The Arizona Republic, the claim says that two other women reported similar inappropriate behavior, including Wear rubbing a woman's back and asking her inappropriate questions. The claim also alleges Wear put his hand on another woman's leg.
The other two women were listed anonymously in the lawsuit, as they were not listed as claimants in the case.
The university, in a statement, said an investigation confirmed the harassment incidents, but that Cohen's firing was not retaliation for reporting them.
"The university acknowledges that the matter should have been resolved in a quicker time frame and has taken steps to remind those involved of ASU policy,” it said.
The Republic reports that Anderson hung on its reporter when he was contacted for comment.
ASU said in a statement that Cohen reported the incident to colleagues in the spring of 2019 and Cohen “indicated he felt the matter could be addressed privately with the donor through a request that he be more mindful of his conduct and respect the personal space of others."
Cohen reportedly introduced new allegations in summer of 2019 and ASU subsequently hired a lawyer to investigate the matter. That report was submitted back in October and Wear’s attorney said his client would cease all contact with the basketball program.
ASU says that it has since cancelled Wear’s season tickets and “informed him he is no longer welcome at university events, and he has otherwise dissociated himself from the university and related entities that support athletics."
The university says that Cohen, who made $191,227 in salary annually, was terminated on Dec. 14 for refusing to cooperate with a department reorganization, calling him “hostile and defiant.”
"Mr. Cohen’s failure to meet the professional standards of the Sun Devil Athletics department was the reason for his termination," ASU said.