LSU mishandled sexual misconduct complaints against students, including top athletes, according to an investigation by USA Today.
The investigation claims school administrators and athletic department officials repeatedly ignored complaints against abusers, denied victims their requests for protections and "subjected them to further harm by known perpetrators."
LSU has continued to withhold police and Title IX records from at least two women who have requested copies of their files, the investigation found.
USA Today says records show at least nine LSU football players have been reported to police for sexual misconduct and dating violence since Ed Orgeron became head coach in 2016.
As a new report shines light on LSU's failures to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations, The Advocate | Times-P…
The article includes new details involving cases with former LSU running back Derrius Guice and wide receiver Drake Davis, which claim LSU officials failed to involve the Title IX office or police when federal laws and school policies required it.
A separate case also claims the university determined a fraternity member had sexually assaulted two women, ignored an allegation by a third and refused to move him out of classes he shared with one of women.
The investigation also found three cases in which LSU allowed male students to stay on campus instead of expelling or suspending them when they were found responsible for sexual assault. The men, non-athletes, instead received a probationary period and received "deferred suspensions," the article said.
LSU also deferred the suspension of a man who stalked and sexually harassed a fellow student, the investigation said, including after he pleaded no contest in court to telephonic harassment.
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard sent a statement that said the school is "aware of the article and is reviewing the allegation."
Interim president Tom Galligan said in a statement Monday evening that LSU has hired Husch Blackwell, a law firm specialized in higher education, to conduct an independent review of LSU's Title IX policies and procedures.
Galligan said he expects the review to conclude in the spring.
Galligan invited victims of abuse who didn't report an incident, or did report it and believe it was not handled properly, to call LSU's Title IX office.
"Any information you are willing to share, no matter how long ago the incident took place is important," Galligan said. "You have my word that we will respond promptly to any report of misconduct and investigate it in a manner that is fair and equitable to everyone involved."
Orgeron read a separate written statement before his weekly Monday news conference, saying "we need to support and protect victims of violence and sexual abuse of any kind."
"I have in the past and will continue to take appropriate action and comply with reporting protocols," Orgeron said. "I have confidence today that the university's working to address our policies and processes when allegations arise."
Orgeron did not answer further questions regarding the USA Today story, but when a reporter asked if it reflected a culture that was already in place before he arrived, he said, "Your question is important."
USA Today's investigation into LSU's handling of sexual assault cases is its second this year. In August, a story detailed two cases in which former students claimed Guice raped them in 2016.
The initial report came less than two weeks after Guice was arrested on multiple domestic violence counts, which prompted the NFL's Washington Football Team to release him.
Guice's attorney, Peter Greenspun, emailed a statement to The Advocate at the time, denying all of the allegations.
In the most recent investigation, Samantha Brennan, a former LSU student, told USA Today that she reported to two senior athletics administrators that Guice took a partially nude photograph of her without her consent in the summer of 2016, then shared it with a team equipment manager and perhaps others.
Brennan, who told USA Today she never wanted to press charges against Guice, said that LSU told her she must wait to access her police report until the statute of limitations ends, six years from when the incident occurred.
Guice's attorney told USA Today that Guice was never disciplined. LSU legal counsel confirmed to USA Today through public records that four other athletes also were not disciplined for accusations of rape: former running back Tae Provens, linebacker Jacob Phillips and tight end Zach Sheffer.
Former safety Grant Delpit was accused of recording a woman during sex without her knowledge and sharing the video with others, according to USA Today.
The former All-American safety denied the allegations through his attorney, Shawn Holley, who sent a statement to USA Today.
“Until being recently advised in connection with this USA TODAY investigation, Mr. Delpit was unaware of any police report or Title IX complaint having been lodged against him in 2017,” the statement said. “To date, he has not seen any report identifying him in connection with this alleged incident.”
Holley has not returned a call for comment with The Advocate.
LSU did not confirm nor deny whether it disciplined former defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Ray Parker because of privacy interests, according to USA Today. Both former players were accused of dating violence.
LSU did confirm it had formally disciplined Davis and Peter Parrish, a former quarterback who transferred to Memphis in August after he was suspended indefinitely earlier this year because of a "violation of team rules."
Parrish, according to USA Today, was accused of raping a woman in a car outside a bar earlier this year. LSU suspended Parrish for one year, the article said.
LSU was less prompt with punishing Davis, according to USA Today. The school expelled the player in July 2019, four months after his criminal conviction and 10 months after he already had left the school.
Davis was indefinitely suspended from the LSU football team after he was arrested and booked on Aug. 17, 2018, when he was accused of punching and grabbing his former girlfriend by the throat on multiple occasions that allegedly occurred between April 2018 and June 2018.
In March 2019, Davis pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors: two counts of battery on a dating partner and one count of violation of a protective order.
Davis began dating an LSU women's tennis player in January 2017, according to USA Today, who was not the same player who said Guice raped her. The woman, unnamed by USA Today, said their relationship turned violent and that Davis left her bruised or bleeding on at least six occasions over one year.
USA Today's interviews with the woman, her father and teammates, plus an LSU police department arrest report "demonstrate" how LSU officials who were told of the abuse "repeatedly failed to act on the information, each time leaving her vulnerable to Davis' increasing violent attacks."
The woman told an LSU athletic trainer, Donavon White, that Davis punched her in the stomach in May 2017 during an argument, according to USA Today. The woman's father told USA Today that he also reported it to Mike Sell, who is LSU's women's tennis co-head coach with his wife, Julia Sell.
USA Today said the woman's father spoke with Mike Sell twice in the summer of 2017 about Davis — phone records confirmed the calls occurred on two days during that time, according to USA Today — and during their second time speaking, the father specifically told Sell that Davis had punched her. According to USA Today, the father said Sell responded: "Couldn't be possible, wouldn't be possible."
A police report shows the father shared the same information with an LSU police detective in August 2018, according to USA Today.
LSU's Title IX policy says employees who receive notice of sexual misconduct "must promptly notify the Title IX Campus Coordinator." The coordinator is then required, per the policy, to provide the person issuing the complaint with information on reporting options, pursuing criminal charges, health care, counseling and available supportive measures.
According to USA Today, there is no evidence that White, Mike Sell or Julia Sell informed anyone. Police records showed that they later told police they didn't learn about the abuse until a year later, according to the story.
The Sells claimed they didn't learn about it until June 2018.
A former tennis player told USA Today their claim was incorrect, because she personally reported Davis to Julia Sell "at least" six to seven months before then.
When the woman was punched in the ribs by Davis in April 2018, the woman told White, senior athletic trainer Micki Collins and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar. According to USA Today, Segar filed a Title IX report.
Records show LSU investigators did not interview Davis for more than two months, according to USA Today, and, by then, he had assaulted the tennis player at least three more times, including an incident on June 18, 2018, in which an "intoxicated" Davis strangled her.
Jonathan Sanders, the head of LSU's student judicial affairs, interviewed Davis on July 11, according to USA Today, and Davis claimed the June 18 argument had not been violent. The woman corroborated Davis' claim when Sanders interviewed her two weeks later, but according to USA Today, at least three other athletes told Sanders she was only covering for him and had indeed strangled her.
On Aug. 16, 2018, the woman showed Segar photos of bruises and scratches she said Davis had given her, according to USA Today, and also text messages in which he threatened to kill her and "encouraged her to kill herself."
LSU police officers arrested Davis the following day.
The actions came months after Davis admitted on April 14, 2018, to punching the woman in a text message conversation with Verge Ausberry, LSU's executive deputy athletic director. The texts, according to USA Today, showed Davis told Ausberry, "She started to hit me. And I hit her in the stomach (which is not good) and I walked out."
According to USA Today, LSU declined to answer whether Ausberry shared the information with the Title IX office or police.
Ausberry was asked about USA Today's story Monday morning during an interview on WNXX-FM 104.5.
"There is a due process there," Ausberry said. "I really can't discuss it."
LSU sent a memo to its major stakeholders last week to warn them that "a national news outlet will be publishing an investigative story in the very near future that will attempt to paint LSU in a negative light."
The memo, obtained by The Advocate, didn't address the specific allegations in the story and said the university would be limited in its response.
"We will have more to say after it is published," the memo said, "but understand that our ability to respond in any level of detail, as well as to correct any misinformation, is limited given our obligation to protecting the privacy of all students, according to the law."
"So while the reporter is free to use any information that he believes will support his premise," the memo continued, "we must abide by the laws that govern student privacy, even when we possess facts that may refute certain allegations. We emphasize to the reporter that LSU is committed to creating a safe learning and working environment for all members of its community and that we do not tolerate any form of sexual assault or abuse, whether on or off campus."
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