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Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU football head coach Les Miles, left, speaks with LSU president F. King Alexander before tipoff between LSU and Alabama, Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at LSU's PMAC in Baton Rouge, La.

When LSU received word about a sexual harassment complaint against its celebrated and successful football coach in 2013, the university handled it in a familiar way: It rang up its longtime law firm, Taylor Porter of Baton Rouge.

A student had accused Coach Les Miles of kissing her twice, of “unwanted touching,” and of telling her he was attracted to her and that he wanted to go to a hotel or his condo with her. Miles denied all those allegations.

But was LSU hiring Taylor Porter to get to the bottom of the matter, or to help cover it up, or both?

Billing records obtained by Andrea Gallo of The Advocate and The Times-Picayune shed new light on the role of Taylor Porter in protecting LSU’s big secret.

The billing records and interviews demonstrate that the decision to keep Miles on, and keep the matter secret, involved at least then-interim LSU president William Jenkins and three board members: Hank Danos, Bobby Yarborough and Stanley Jacobs.

Soon after, a new president arrived on campus, and F. King Alexander says he was only brought into the loop after the decision had been made to keep Miles. After the long-buried history of Miles' misdeeds became public earlier this month, Alexander was ushered out as president of Oregon State University just months into his tenure.

New information in the billing records suggests that Taylor Porter’s role may have been not just to investigate the allegation against Miles, but to assist LSU, in making sure it didn't see the light of day.

LSU’s former Human Resources director, A.G. Monaco, told The Advocate earlier this year that Taylor Porter attorney Vicki Crochet called him in 2013 and asked that he help convince a professor to let a student retake a failed quiz after the student accused Miles of sexual harassment. Monaco said he reported the incident up the chain of command and refused to change the grade.

The billing records reflect that Crochet contacted Monaco on March 5, 2013.

Crochet also included in a May 2 billing record that she reviewed correspondence from LSU senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar related to a “student grade.”

If Taylor Porter was helping LSU avoid public scrutiny, it wouldn’t be the first time, and even if their advice and everything they did was technically legal, LSU should have known better.

During the presidential search that climaxed in the hiring of Alexander, the sole finalist, Taylor Porter lawyer Shelby McKenzie urged then-Board of Supervisors chairman Blake Chatelain to correspond through his personal email, circumventing Louisiana’s Public Records Law. 

What Taylor Porter was doing talking with Monaco about a student's grade is not clear, but what is apparent is that Taylor Porter helped LSU achieve its goal of secrecy — until the media reported out the story.

Whether that’s in the interest of the taxpayers is a question to be explored by the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children. So far, the women on that panel seem to be the only folks in authority trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong on campus.