LSU officials investigated in 2018 whether employees of the Athletic Department had properly handled a student's earlier complaint that a football player had physically abused her, and the investigation found serious failures to report, according to a new report from USA Today.
As LSU faces continuing deeper scrutiny into how the university has handled complaints of sexual harassment and violence on campus, multiple current employees have been implicated in the controversies over failures to report sexual harassment and dating violence when they learned of it.
Two years ago, the NCAA, SEC and LSU’s president and top legal counsel were all warned that LSU’s athletics department had potentially run afo…
The latest employee to face heat is Sharon Lewis, an associate athletic director for football recruiting and alumni relations. She was scrutinized in a 2018 Title IX report regarding a student’s 2016 allegations about violence from Drake Davis that also included interviews with executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry, according to USA Today.
An attorney for Lewis told The Advocate on Tuesday that the allegations against Lewis had so many holes in them that LSU’s Department of Human Resources took no action against her, despite the LSU Title IX office finding that she had violated LSU’s sexual misconduct policy by failing to report an allegation of abuse. Ausberry, who remains on the LSU presidential search committee, declined to comment Tuesday about his involvement in the investigation.
The Davis case so far has largely focused on allegations that he physically assaulted former LSU tennis player Jade Lewis between 2017 and 2018; he later pleaded guilty to battery and violating a protective order in her case. But another woman who worked in the football recruiting office said that in 2016, she told Sharon Lewis — her boss, who has no relation to Jade Lewis — that Davis assaulted her as well, according to USA Today.
When LSU Police investigated allegations in 2018 that a football player was abusing the tennis player he was dating, multiple witnesses told o…
Two years later, the woman filed a complaint with the LSU Title IX office and investigators probed how Sharon Lewis had handled the 2016 incident. The student told Title IX investigators that when she dated Davis in 2016, he pushed her and nearly hit her at JL's in Tigerland before a few teammates stopped him, according to the Title IX report that USA Today received. The report says that Davis "came running towards her and swinging wildly" as she tried to leave, but he was again restrained by other players.
The Title IX report states that the woman met with Lewis and Keava Soil-Cormier, assistant director of recruiting operations, shortly after the 2016 incident. She later told Title IX that she felt they coaxed her not to file a police report, and that Lewis and Soil-Cormier did not provide her any support mechanisms.
Maria Finley, the Baton Rouge attorney who represented Sharon Lewis in the 2018 Title IX case and who continues to represent her now, disputed the description of the 2016 meeting between Lewis and the student. Finley said Lewis reached out to the student in 2016 after hearing that the student threw a drink onto Davis while they were in Tigerland. Finley said the student admitted in the meeting to throwing the drink, but that the student did not report any physical abuse to Lewis.
When an LSU football player admitted to hitting his girlfriend in a text he sent to executive deputy director of athletics Verge Ausberry, bot…
Finley said that after the meeting, Lewis called Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar about the drink-throwing incident. She was unsure whether Segar took further action.
“We’re not saying he didn’t do something to her physically, we’re just saying, she didn’t tell Sharon [Lewis] about it,” Finley said.
“I am about taking care of the girls,” Lewis said, while on a phone call with Finley and an Advocate reporter.
USA Today reported that the student later lost her job and said she tried to move on, but that she felt responsible in 2018 when news came out about Davis abusing Jade Lewis. That's when the woman sought out Ausberry to tell him everything that happened.
As a new report shines light on LSU's failures to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations, The Advocate | Times-P…
But Ausberry later told Title IX investigators that "he immediately told her he didn't want to hear any more," and that the student needed to report the problem to Segar. USA Today reported that was a frequent, but problematic approach within the LSU Athletic Department — former Athletic Director Joe Alleva routinely instructed employees to report sexual harassment and Title IX violations in-house to Segar, rather than to LSU's Title IX office.
Finley also said that Sharon Lewis followed the protocol Alleva established by reporting the student’s drink-throwing allegations to Segar. Alleva did not return messages Tuesday.
The student told USA Today that she received one voicemail from Segar. She said she called Segar back and never heard back again. Segar told Title IX that they "played phone tag."
"There is sufficient evidence to prove that Respondent Sharon Lewis violated LSU's [Title IX policy prohibiting sexual misconduct] in that as a Responsible Person she failed to report a potential violation of LSU's Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy," reads the report from LSU's Title IX investigator Jeffrey Scott.
LSU has agreed to pay Husch Blackwell up to $100,000 for the law firm’s review of how the university has handled past sexual violence and assa…
Finley said that Scott’s report did not lead to consequences for Sharon Lewis because LSU’s HR department did not find it credible. She also said that Lewis has not yet been made part of the investigation from Husch Blackwell, the law firm that LSU has engaged to investigate previous missteps in Title IX cases.
Finley called for LSU to release the full files related to the Title IX case to the public, saying that the report from Scott was only a small piece of a much more complicated investigation.
The Advocate has requested the records from LSU, but has not received them.