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Report: LSU Ignored Assault Claims Against Athletes

Brock Fritz

A USA Today investigation claims that LSU officials have ignored sexual assault allegations made against students, including former football players.

The investigation included allegations against star running back Derrius Guice, who was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft and was released by the Washington Football Team on Aug. 7 after he was arrested on three separate domestic violence charges.

USA Today reported that in 2016, “a member of the LSU diving team told her coach and an athletic department administrator that Guice raped her friend after she’d passed out drunk at a party.

“That summer, a female student told two senior athletics administrators that Guice took a partially nude photograph of her without her permission, and then shared it with a team equipment manager and possibly others.

“Then, in April 2017, the athletic department received reports of a second rape allegation against Guice, this time by a women’s tennis player.”

University officials are required to report sexual assault allegations and complaints to the Title IX office, and also to campus police if the incidents occurred on school property. However, USA Today’s investigation found that “at each step of the way, LSU officials either doubted the women’s stories, didn’t investigate, or didn’t call the police.”

The investigation went beyond Guice, finding several more instances of LSU officials ignoring complaints and denying victims’ requests for protections.

“I just think that honestly they don’t care,” one of the women told USA Today, which sued LSU in mid-October for access to four campus police reports. “The whole system is on the side of the accused.”

There have been three cases where non-athletes were allowed to stay on campus after being found responsible for sexual assault. They received deferred suspensions, which was in effect a probation period in which they needed to stay out of trouble.

In the athletic department, at least nine LSU football players that have been reported to police for sexual misconduct and dating violence since head coach Ed Orgeron took over four years ago. LSU has formally disciplined two of the nine.

"First, I want to say that we need to support and protect victims of violence and sexual abuse of any kind," Orgeron said in a prepared statement to start his Monday news conference. "There's no place in our society nor on this campus or on our football program for any behavior of this type. When accusations are made, we have a legal and moral obligation to report every allegation to the university's Title IX office so due process can be implemented. I have in the past and will continue to take appropriate action and comply with reporting protocols. I have confidence today that the university is working to address our policies and processes when allegations arise." 

Former receiver Drake Davis was arrested in 2018 on second-degree battery charges and was indefinitely suspended by the team. He was expelled from LSU 10 months after he’d transferred to Southern University. LSU tennis coach Mike Sell allegedly knew of the assault, as Davis’ girlfriend was a tennis player, but didn’t report it to the school or LSU’s Title IX coordinator. Peter Parrish, who was accused of rape earlier this year, was also punished, as LSU suspended the quarterback for one year.

LSU attorney Johanna Posada confirmed to USA Today that Tae Provens, Jacob Phillips and Zach Sheffer weren’t punished after being accused of rape. Grant Delpit also wasn’t disciplined after being accused of recording a woman during sex without her knowledge, and then sharing the video. LSU hasn’t said if it disciplined Davon Godchaux and Ray Parker, who have been accused of dating violence.

 

"I felt obligated to defend my coach bc we had team meetings about nearly every incident," LSU punter Zach Von Rosenberg tweeted and deleted, according to ESPN. "Most of these players were either dismissed or removed from the team. The others I don't know all the details, but what I do know is my coach would do the right thing. Fact."

LSU interim president Tom Galligan said that the school has retained law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct an independent, comprehensive review into the university’s Title IX policies and procedures.

“I want to assure you that LSU takes every report of sexual assault or violence seriously,” Galligan said in a statement on Twitter, noting he expects the independent review to conclude in the spring. “We investigate them thoroughly, support victims sensitively, and hold offenders accountable. However, we are not perfect, and we can, and will, do better. A single instance of abuse or sexual violence is one too many.

“We empathize with the victims featured in the article, and for that matter, all victims of abuse or any form of violence. No one should ever have to deal with the pain inflicted by another human being or a process that feels less than empathetic.”

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