Report: Lawsuit accuses LSU, officials of conspiring to cover up sexual harassment allegations

Ryan Young
·4-min read

A new lawsuit filed against LSU accused the university of conspiring to cover up multiple reports of sexual misconduct and dating violence, discriminating against female students and depriving them of their rights, according to a USA Today report.

Seven women filed the federal class-action lawsuit Monday against the university, its leadership, athletic fundraising arm and multiple top administrators, per the report. The women include three former tennis players, two former football recruiting office student workers, a former student and a current student.

They alleged the school created a “culture of silence” that discouraged victims from reporting abuse and harassment, and that it prioritized the football team above their safety and welfare. The women are seeking more than $5 million in damages.

“We have filed an action against LSU on behalf of the young women that have bravely come forward, the young people that are still afraid, and every young person who had the dream of going to LSU,” said Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the women, via USA Today. “Until the priorities shift back to the mission of this university, the flagship school of Louisiana, to educate and support young people in their quest to better themselves, we will not stop the quest for change.”

The lawsuit names former athletic director Joe Alleva, six current officials in the athletic department, the board of supervisors and former university president F. King Alexander.

Allegations made against LSU, players

The allegations levied in the lawsuit range from rape and sexual abuse from players and others to officials persuading students to have sex with recruits — all while LSU allegedly ignored or didn't properly help the accusers. 

Former tennis player Abby Owens told USA Today that former LSU running back Derrius Guice raped her, and former football student recruiting worker Samantha Brennan said that Guice took a partially nude photo of her and shared it without her consent.

The allegations are just the latest against Guice. LSU has since removed him from its record books and banned Guice from all future involvement with its athletic programs. He has been accused of raping another woman at the school, and sexually harassing an elderly security guard.

Former student Calise Richardson told USA Today that players, coaches and other men with the program “solicited her for sex on multiple occasions.” She said she was raped in 2015 by a recruit during an official visit, and that Guice attempted to rape her the next year before he spread rumors about her. She said she was also physically and emotionally abused by another player, Drake Davis, from 2016-18, but that officials laughed at her and mocked her when she complained.

Davis pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to his repeated abuse of a different tennis player, Jade Lewis, in 2019 and was expelled from the school a few months later. Multiple LSU officials were aware of the assaults, per the report, but did nothing. The school even charged Lewis for having a candle in her on-campus apartment after finding it during the eventual investigation into Davis, according to USA Today.

Another tennis player, Kennan Johnson, said that LSU women’s tennis coach Julia Sell “emotionally and mentally abused her” and discriminated against her due to her sexual orientation, once even telling her to keep her “lifestyle” out of the locker room.

The two other students are not involved with the athletic department. One was sexually assaulted by a fraternity member, but said that LSU’s investigations into her claim were slow and that the school frequently denied their requests for protection and did not interview witnesses. She said that she was also moved out of classes she shared with her accuser, instead of him being moved.

The final student said that she was sexually harassed by a student in her residence hall, groped by him and had items stolen from her room – which he said she could have back only “if she submitted to his sexual advances,” per the report. The male student was not punished, and the woman was eventually expelled after her grades plummeted following the incidents.

LSU’s other recent harassment allegations

The lawsuit is the latest claim made against the university in recent months.

Former LSU football coach Les Miles was fired from Kansas after allegations that he repeatedly harassed female students and required that only “blondes with the big boobs’ and “pretty girls” work for the team.

Miles was investigated in 2013, though he stayed at the school until 2016. He was banned from being alone with female students, too.

LSU associate athletic director Sharon Lewis — who is also listed in Monday’s lawsuit — filed a $50 million Title IX lawsuit against the school earlier this month alleging that the school conspired to cover up a sexual harassment investigation into Miles and retaliated against her for reporting the allegations.

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