A great-grandmother working at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2017 testified Friday she was sexually harassed by LSU’s then-star running back Derrius Guice, and that head coach Ed Orgeron tried to defuse the incident by asking her for forgiveness on behalf of Guice.
Gloria Scott, now 74, alleged Orgeron and other LSU officials including Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar rejected her request for punishment: that Guice be held out of the 2018 Citrus Bowl.
Her testimony raises questions about whether Orgeron lied to investigators who probed the incident as part of a sweeping and damning investigation into LSU’s failure to report sexual harassment and abuse and protect victims.
The incident at the Superdome came after two rape allegations against Guice plus an allegation that he took nude pictures of a woman without her consent had already been reported to school officials, according to an investigative report by the law firm Husch Blackwell released earlier this month. The report found wide-ranging failures by LSU to respond to abuse allegations.
Orgeron denied to investigators from Husch Blackwell that he had direct communication with Scott about the incident.
State lawmakers on the committee were furious about Scott’s allegations, and demanded Orgeron testify, though he did not appear Friday. The hearing concluded just after 7 p.m., after more than seven hours of testimony. It was cut short before Scott Woodward, the athletic director, who was scheduled to appear, could testify. He is expected to testify at a subsequent hearing.
Scott detailed the incident through tears before the state Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, recalling she was at her post in December 2017 working a high school football game when Guice and several other young men approached her. Guice then repeatedly sexually harassed her, Scott said, telling her “I want you to f--- me.”
“I was so hurt and so nervous and so upset,” Scott said. “Never in my life have I had a man or child talk to me like he did.”
She also recounted in detail her unsuccessful efforts to get LSU to do something about it. After reporting the incident to the university, she said Orgeron called her, with Guice apparently in the room, to try to gain her forgiveness.
Scott remembered Orgeron telling her Guice was a “troubled child,” and that he was “just kidding.” Oregon asked her to “please forgive him,” she said. Scott said Orgeron tried to put Guice on to apologize, but she refused to speak with him.
Scott’s granddaughter told USA Today she was present during the call and could hear Orgeron’s “deep, Cajun ‘frog voice.’”
Ausberry and Segar -- the only two LSU officials to be reprimanded for mishandling sexual harassment allegations -- later told Scott that her request for Guice to be benched for the Citrus Bowl “would never happen,” Scott said.
“It doesn’t matter how good of a player, football, basketball. You still have to do something when they do something wrong,” Scott said.
LSU athletics spokesman Cody Worsham in a statement denied Orgeron ever spoke to Scott.
“As detailed in the Husch Blackwell report, Coach Orgeron never had any direct communications with the complainant,” Worsham said. “He has and will continue to follow university protocols regarding reporting.”
The report says Orgeron told Husch Blackwell’s investigators that he didn’t have “any direct communication with the alleged victim.” He said Segar informed him of the incident and that Segar, Ausberry and a Taylor Porter attorney hired by the university conducted “an investigation.”
Guice was released by the Washington Football Team in the NFL and was arrested in August on domestic violence charges. His attorney has denied he did anything wrong while at LSU.
Lawmakers on the committee grilled LSU leaders about Guice’s alleged harassment of Scott and the school’s failure to take action. State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who is running for Congress, pressed the attorney for LSU’s Board of Supervisors on Orgeron’s claims.
“We will speak to Ms. Scott and speak to Coach O and we’ll get you an answer,” the attorney, Winston Decuir, said. “If he lied, we’ll deal with Coach O.”
Women lawmakers in the state Capitol have increasingly probed LSU’s failures to protect sexual harassment and abuse victims. In a previous hearing of the same committee, other survivors of harassment and assault delivered damning testimony about LSU’s mishandling of their claims.
In the latest hours-long hearing, state Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge, asked why victims would come forward if there were no consequences for the people who fumbled reports of harassment and abuse.
“I’m done with this coverup,” Marcelle said. “It’s crazy. It’s insane. And we need to fix it.”
Rep. Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge, called the allegations “disgusting” and “gut-wrenching.”
Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, demanded Orgeron testify before the committee.
“How could anyone think Ms. Scott was saying anything but the truth?” She said. “What reason would she have to come sit before us and make up that she spoke to somebody?”
“If my daughter was applying to LSU right now, she would not be going,” Freeman said.
The Husch Blackwell report had sketched out some of the details of Scott’s story. But the firm was “not able to identify ‘the coach’” who allegedly called Scott on Guice’s behalf. According to an incident report from the school’s Student Advocacy and Accountability office cited by Husch Blackwell, the unnamed coach told the woman “that Derrius was probably just kidding around and that Derrius came from a broken home,” before “dismissing” her.
Decuir told lawmakers “something should have happened” in response to the incident. But he pointed to the Husch Blackwell report’s explanation for why it wasn’t deemed a Title IX case: because Guice was no longer an LSU student, and because the incident took place at a high school football game. But he conceded the school could have held Guice out of the bowl game regardless.
Robert Dampf, chair of the Board of Supervisors, called the incident “horrible.”
“The idea that a victim doesn’t get their say and their day is just wrong,” Dampf said.
Lawmakers also raised frustrations that former head football coach Les Miles was allowed to stay on as coach even after the school had determined he wasn’t fit to spend time alone with female students. They also questioned why he was nonetheless paid a $1.5 million buyout when he was finally let go.
Miles stepped down as coach of the University of Kansas recently amid fallout from the investigation, which found a pattern of “inappropriate behavior” with female students at LSU.
Kansas athletic director Jeff Long and Oregon State University President F. King Alexander have since stepped down from their respective posts over the scandal. Alexander was president of LSU from 2013 through 2019.
In a story published this week, Alexander told the Chronicle of Higher Education LSU board members summoned him to Juban’s restaurant in Baton Rouge in 2019 and demanded he fire then-Athletic Director Joe Alleva and replace him with Woodward. James Williams, who was board chairman at the time, confirmed the board suggested that night that LSU replace Alleva with Woodward, but disputed the idea that Alexander was given an ultimatum.
More generally, Dampf, the current board chair, took issue with the notion that the state’s flagship university is dominated by athletics.
“I think the idea that athletics runs the university is sometimes a convenient narrative,” he said. “I don’t think it’s accurate.”
Staff writer Brooks Kubena contributed to this story.