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Judge Dismisses Racketeering Claim in Lawsuit Against LSU

Paul Steinbach
Lsu

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed claims that Louisiana State University and its attorneys violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO, as presented in lawsuit filed this spring by LSU associate athletic director Sharon Lewis.

Lewis filed suit against LSU in state and federal court, alleging that her athletic department superiors retaliated against her for trying to report that former football coach Les Miles was sexually harassing student workers.

As reported by The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Lewis' federal lawsuit made dozens of accusations against LSU, including that a lengthy list of defendants conspired to "destroy (her) property rights in her employment." Those defendants included the LSU Board of Supervisors, Miles, LSU's former president F. King Alexander and attorneys from the Taylor Porter law firm.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan dismissed the racketeering claims, and granted motions to dismiss the charges Lewis leveled against Miles, LSU's former president William Jenkins and former board members Hank Danos, Bobby Yarborough and Stanley Jacobs. She ruled that Lewis' assertions against them were time-barred. Morgan also dismissed Lewis' RICO claims against several other LSU employees and attorneys based on allegations that predated April 8, 2017.

Lewis still has the option to bring new RICO claims if the alleged violations happened after April 2017. Lewis can also keep trying to sue them for retaliation, according to the Morgan, a federal judge based in the New Orleans Eastern District Court who is overseeing the case because all Baton Rouge-based federal judges recused themselves.

According to The Advocate, Lewis is a defendant in another federal lawsuit that a group of former students filed this spring against LSU. The students claim university officials violated federal Title IX laws that prohibit gender discrimination by failing to properly respond to their allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence, largely involving LSU football players. That lawsuit also includes RICO allegations.

As for her case against LSU in Baton Rouge district court, Lewis has a hearing scheduled for Monday over whether a judge should stay the state lawsuit until the federal suit has concluded. Baton Rouge District Judge Timothy Kelley will also take up arguments from Taylor Porter attorneys and LSU board members that Lewis has no grounds to sue them and that she filed to file her lawsuit in a timely manner.

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