LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron is expected to send a letter instead of testifying live Thursday before the Legislature's Senate Select Committee on Women and Children.
The committee last week called for 10 people involved in LSU's recent handling of sexual misconduct cases, including Orgeron, to testify at its next committee hearing, set for Thursday.
The request to hear from Orgeron directly came after the recent testimony of Gloria Scott, a Mercedes-Benz Superdome security employee, who said she was sexually harassed by then-star running back Derrius Guice. Scott said Orgeron tried to defuse the incident by calling her and asking her to forgive Guice.
The committee's agenda asked for those invited to "attend in person or submit a written statement" by Tuesday. Orgeron is not expected to attend the hearing and plans on submitting a written statement, sources told The Advocate | Times-Picayune.
State Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, who leads the committee, said Monday she had not yet gotten a response from LSU. Letters sent to the committee are still technically testimony, but it is more common for LSU officials to appear in person when requested. The Legislature oversees and votes on budget issues that impact higher education.
Orgeron has already spoken publicly about Scott's allegations, saying he doesn't recall talking to her. The Advocate | Times-Picayune reported Monday that a New Orleans youth basketball coach who represented Scott told LSU athletic department officials in 2017 that Scott would go public with her story if the university didn't pay her $100,000 or keep Guice from playing in the Citrus Bowl.
Scott told the newspaper the youth coach, Cleavon Williams, made that request without her permission, and experts who represent sexual harassment victims say that demands for money in the wake of harassment are common and don't diminish the credibility of a victim's testimony. Williams' request, however, appears to have changed LSU's view of Scott's complaint against Guice.
Orgeron's expected absence Thursday means Senate committee members seeking to clarify what happened through in-person testimony will not be able to do so. It also means members are unable to ask Orgeron other questions related to LSU's sexual misconduct cases. The law firm Husch Blackwell investigated cases involving 10 different LSU football players accused of sexual misconduct in recent years, nine of whom played under Orgeron.
Others on the invited list include LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward, who attended the committee's last hearing, which concluded after more than seven hours of testimony, but was cut short before Woodward was scheduled to appear.
Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar — the two athletic officials who were suspended following the Husch Blackwell report and have since returned to work — have also been invited. The agenda says Ausberry is "out of town and unable to attend."
Husch Blackwell reported 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.
The report said Orgeron "denied having any direct communication with the alleged victim," saying Segar "told us about the incident," that an LSU attorney "did an investigation" and he was "not sure what happened."
"As I told them," Orgeron said Tuesday, "I truthfully do not remember speaking with Ms. Scott three years ago. But I do know Ms. Scott deserves to be heard and admired for her courage. I have been, and I will continue to be committed to a culture of integrity and compliance."
Scott detailed the incident through tears before the Senate committee on Friday, 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."
Scott said she contacted LSU, and she alleged Orgeron and other LSU officials, including Ausberry and Segar, rejected her request that Guice be held out of the 2018 Citrus Bowl. Guice played in the game.
LSU released a statement on the same day as Scott's testimony that said Orgeron "never had any direct communications with the complainant" and that Orgeron "has and will continue to follow university protocols regarding reporting."
Orgeron told WNXX-FM, 104.5's "Off the Bench" last week "I truthfully do not remember speaking with Ms. Scott three years ago. But I do know Ms. Scott deserves to be heard and admired for her courage. I have been, and I will continue to be committed to a culture of integrity and compliance."