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7 Women Say LSU Conspired to Cover Up Reports of Sexual Misconduct, Sue for $5M

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

The LSU logo is seen on a helmet during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, September 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Seven women are suing LSU and a number of individuals connected to the school and its leadership, saying they conspired to cover up reports of sexual misconduct and dating violence.

Kenny Jacoby and Nancy Armour of USA Today reported the news, noting the women filed a 124-page federal class-action lawsuit Monday so others can join.

"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," attorney Karen Truszkowski said. "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 seven women included three former LSU tennis players and two former football recruiting office student workers.

They are seeking damages of more than $5 million and accused LSU of "prioritizing its reputation and football program above their safety and welfare and for creating a 'culture of silence' where student victims were discouraged from and retaliated against for reporting Title IX offenses," per Jacoby and Armour.

LSU previously hired the outside law firm Husch Blackwell, which found a "serious institutional failure" in the school's response to complaints of physical and gendered violence.

This also comes after Sharon Lewis, LSU's longtime football recruiting director, filed a separate lawsuit against the school alleging retaliation and organized cover-ups of Title IX complaints. The United States Department of Education is also investigating for violations of Title IX and the Clery Act.

Two of the women involved in the latest lawsuit said school officials were indifferent to their allegations against former running back Derrius Guice. One said he raped her, while another said he shared a partially nude photo of her without her consent.

Former student Calise Richardson "said she and other students in the football recruiting office were encouraged to do anything to lure top football recruits on officials visits to LSU, including having sex with them," per the report.

She said a recruit raped her in 2015 and that Guice attempted to do so in 2016 before spreading rumors that she would have sex with anyone.

Guice has denied the allegations.

Among the defendants in the suit are the LSU Board of Supervisors, former LSU President F. King Alexander, former athletic director Joe Alleva, women's tennis coaches Julia and Mike Sell, and the Tiger Athletic Foundation that helps facilitate millions of dollars in donations to the LSU athletic department.

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