Former Kentucky Swim and Dive Members File Lawsuit, Allege School Complicit in Former Coach's Abuse

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Two former members of the the University of Kentucky's swim and dive team have sued the school, claiming the school was complicit in allowing former head coach Lars Jorgensen to abuse members of the team. 

When Jorgensen resigned in mid-2023, he did so after allegations arose that he implemented punishment swims and forced eating practices, but UK at the time released statement without giving any reasons for his departure. 

Since then, a report from The Athletic revealed much more serious allegations, including that he allegedly raped two members of the swim program following a Christmas party, sent photos of his erect penis to members of the team along with videos of himself masturbating, told personal sex stories and commented on athletes’ bodies in sexual ways, and body-shamed his swimmers while also withholding food as punishment.

According to the report, UK was aware of the allegations but allegedly labeled the reports as "not urgent" and downplayed the matter. 

On Friday two former members of the program filed a lawsuit against Jorgensen, UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart and Gary Connelly — Kentucky’s former head swim coach that employed Jorgensen — with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. 

The complaint alleges that the school's indifference allowed Jorgensen maintain a toxic environment and to â€śprey on, sexually harass, and commit horrific sexual assaults and violent rapes against young female coaches and collegiate athletes.”

The Athletic's report claimed the Jorgensen would isolate and control his victims, threatening to end their swimming careers if they rejected his advances. 

Jorgensen resigned in June of 2023 due to the latter allegations, taking a settlement of $75,000 with him. When alleged victims felt the university was not taking the sexual abuse allegations more seriously, the lawsuit was filed.

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