The University of Arizona’s athletic department is refuting charges that it had a “zero-tolerance” policy toward athletes implicated in domestic violence incidents.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, a woman who was assaulted by former UA running back Orlando Bradford is suing the school, alleging that UA knew that he’d been abusive to women in the past but failed to act on that information.
Bradford was arrested last year and charged with 10 felonies, including five misdemeanors involving allegations from two women who said he had hit and choked them.
Bradford was released from the team after his arrest, and the team’s coach, Rich Rodriguez, told reporters that the team would not tolerate abuse against women. “We have a rule. You put your hands on a woman, you’re done,” Rodriguez said. “That’s it. If you did it, if you put your hands on a woman in any way, shape or form, you’re done. Next.”
The University of Arizona did not address Rodriguez’s comments, but denied that it has in place any official “zero-tolerance” policy around domestic violence that would have compelled it to act on Bradford’s behavior.
The woman is claiming that after Bradford had already been reported to UA officials, the school’s efforts to stop him from abusing other women were deficient, resulting in harm to two other women, including the plaintiff. The lawsuit alleges that UA was negligent and in violation of the plaintiff’s civil rights on Title IX grounds.
According to the Star, UA denies all allegations in the lawsuit beyond a few basic facts, such as when Bradford was admitted to the school and when he began taking classes.
UA lawyers said that, “Defendants exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior and ... plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of preventative opportunities or to otherwise avoid harm.”
Last month Bradford pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated assault. The remaining eight charges were dismissed. He’s now serving between two and seven years in prison.