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Associate AD Sharon Lewis Suing LSU for $50M After Les Miles Investigation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2021

John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sharon Lewis is filing a $50 million Title IX lawsuit against LSU, alleging she was the victim of retaliation in connection to the investigation into sexual harassment by former football coach Les Miles.

"Members of the LSU Board of Supervisors, LSU Athletic Department, LSU Leadership and their law firm, Taylor Porter entered into a conspiracy to hide Les Miles' sexual harassment investigation from federal officials and the public and to retaliate against Ms. Lewis," attorney Tammye Brown said, per WAFB's Lester Duhe. "Over the last eight years, Ms. Lewis has stood up to protect LSU female student workers and as a result has suffered unimaginable retaliation sanctioned by the LSU Board of Supervisors."

Lester Duhé @LesterDuhe

LSU ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR FILES 50 MILLION DOLLAR TITLE IX RETALIATION LAWSUIT AGAINST LSU: Alleging retaliation for reporting former football Coach Les Miles for sexual harassment @WAFBhttps://t.co/3GakzHb2Cq pic.twitter.com/n2k9IOtLNL

Lewis serves as the associate athletics director for football recruiting and alumni relations. 

Prior to news of the impending suit, she spoke with USA Today's Kenny Jacoby. She said officials including Miles, executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar "tormented her" after she reported the allegations against the coach.

"Lewis said Miles harassed and undermined her for years, trying to sexualize the group of student workers she supervised," Jacoby wrote. "Ausberry verbally abused her, she said, and he and Segar lied to an LSU Title IX investigator to get her in trouble."

Lewis also alleges Miles "repeatedly pressured" her to replace Black student workers on the recruiting staff "with blond women or light-skinned Black women whom he considered prettier."

Jacoby, Nancy Armour and Jessica Luther reported for USA Today in February that Miles had been the subject of an investigation in 2013 regarding allegations of sexual harassment of female student workers. LSU subsequently released the report that had been compiled by law firm Taylor Porter.

Per USA Today, one female student said Miles once suggested they should go to a hotel together and kissed her twice; the former coach denied the latter accusation. Another student said she became "uncomfortable" when Miles initially asked her to babysit his children and then instead suggested they watch a movie together. 

Miles also allegedly "texted at least one other former student employee using a personal phone that LSU had no knowledge of or way to monitor."

Following the investigation, then-athletic director Joe Alleva banned Miles from interpersonal contact or communications with female student employees.

After the USA Today report, LSU brought in Husch Blackwell law firm in November to oversee an investigation into how the school handled Miles' alleged actions and how the university handled sexual misconduct cases writ large.

The firm's report detailed how Lewis was "the only person in the entire University who has ever been disciplined in any form for failing to make a report" under the necessary Title IX guidelines.

"This is ironic because Lewis has lodged several reports of sex harassment throughout her tenure," the report read.

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