Ex-LSU Tennis Player Jade Lewis: Coach Lied About Drake Davis Abuse Allegations

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2020

LSU helmets sit on the bench area during the Texas Bowl NCAA football game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Houston. LSU won 56-27. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)
Bob Levey/Associated Press

Former LSU tennis player Jade Lewis refuted a statement made by co-head tennis coach Julia Sell regarding the coach's response to dating violence committed by Tigers football player Drake Davis.

Lewis shared a statement Thursday on Twitter saying Sell had knowledge of the allegations levied by her players:

"I was betrayed by Coach Sell, and I will not stand by and allow her to deny knowledge of what I went through, when in reality she knew the full truth and simply chose to stand by," Lewis wrote. "As details of the sexual misconduct within LSU continue to come to light, my hope is that LSU Athletics changes course and decides to be transparent and remorseful rather than continuing to create cover-ups and false narratives."

Julia Sell posted a statement Wednesday to say she and her husband "would never dismiss or doubt any such allegations."

Kenny Jacoby, Nancy Armour and Jessica Luther published a lengthy investigation for USA Today on Monday that detailed systemic issues at LSU when it came to addressing allegations of sexual misconduct, with many of the allegations having been made against prominent athletes at the school.

Davis was among the athletes named: "At least seven LSU officials had direct knowledge that [Davis] was physically abusing his girlfriend, a different LSU women's tennis player, but they sat on the information for months, while Davis continued to assault and strangle her."

USA Today didn't include Lewis' name in the report and only referred to a member of the Tigers women's tennis team in connection to Davis.

The article said the woman told athletic trainer Donavon White that Davis had "punched her in the stomach" during an argument in May 2017. Her father also spoke with Mike Sell, the co-tennis head coach with wife Julia. The father said Mike Sell responded that the allegation "couldn't be possible, wouldn't be possible."

USA Today reported there are no records to indicate White or the Sells took the allegations to appropriate officials at LSU.

"They made their decision," the father said. "After that, we knew (our daughter) would be beaten up, and we knew LSU would cover it up."

Davis was charged with second-degree battery in August 2018, per ESPN's Mark Schlabach. A woman told the LSU Police Department of "four incidents of physical abuse by Davis between May 2017 and June 2018."

LSU formally expelled Davis in July 2019, several months after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of battery on a dating partner and one misdemeanor count of violation of a protective order. He enrolled at Southern that October.

Interim president Tom Galligan said shortly after the USA Today report the university was retaining the law firm Husch Blackwell "to conduct an independent, comprehensive review of our Title IX policies and procedures."