Former ASU Official Says He Was Fired for Insisting On Sexual Assault Investigations

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 12, 2021

TEMPE, AZ - FEBRUARY 08:  The Arizona State Sun Devils logo sparky on the court before the college basketball game between the USC Trojans and the Arizona State Sun Devils on February 8, 2020 at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Arizona State official David Cohen has filed a civil lawsuit against the school alleging that his termination was as a result of insisting the school investigate sexual assault claims against a booster, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

Cohen was fired from his position as senior associate athletic director in December 2019, which he saw as "clear retaliation" for his role in pushing for an investigation against prominent donor Bart Wear.

The lawsuit comes after a notice of claim filed in February, which stated Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson and other officials waited almost five months to begin an investigation into claims from three women of "assault and sexual harassment" against Wear, per Thamel.

ASU eventually canceled the booster's season tickets and determined he is no longer welcome at events after determining he "subjected the three women to 'unwelcome comments and physical contact,'" per Thamel.

Cohen's wife, Kathy, was one of the accusers, stating Wear touched her breasts at a Pac-12 tournament basketball game. Leslie Hurley, wife of men's basketball coach Bobby Hurley, also said Wear "inappropriately put his hand on her leg while talking with her."

Bobby Hurley blasted Anderson in an email last December, stating the athletic director "disregarded the safety and [has] shown no sensitivity towards the women that have experienced sexual assault," per Thamel.

The latest lawsuit alleges Cohen was fired only for pushing for an investigation and that he otherwise "received glowing reviews for his performance and the highest bonuses in the ASU athletics department."

There is no specific dollar amount called for in the lawsuit, but it states he is seeking "past and future wages and benefits, pre and post-judgement interest, compensatory damages, and mental health anguish and emotional distress."

Anderson received a contract extension in February that could keep him at the school through at least 2026.