Husch Blackwell probed cases involving 10 different LSU football players accused of sexual misconduct in recent years as part of the law firm’s investigation into how the university has handled allegations of rape and dating violence.
Scott Schneider, the Husch Blackwell attorney who led the investigation, said the types of errors that LSU made in cases involving athletes marred cases involving non-athletes as well. But he noted that athletes are “beneficiaries of being very powerful on campus,” which can make victims even less likely to come forward.
The cases examined included four allegations of sexual misconduct involving Derrius Guice, two allegations of rape involving Tae Provens and one allegation of dating violence by Ray Parker. Four of the 10 players were arrested, while six others only faced allegations internally at LSU.
Coaches prattle on about the importance of putting their teams in position to win.
“We have to get it right going forward,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward in a news conference Friday. “As an alum and as an athletic director, I’m embarrassed about what’s happened in the past.”
In many cases, Husch Blackwell questioned LSU’s decision-making when faced with complaints from students who accused football players of rape and other misdeeds.
Husch Blackwell revisited the case of “a highly recruited football player and enrolled at LSU in June 2017” whom the report called Respondent D. The circumstances described in the report make clear that he is Jacob Phillips, now a Cleveland Browns linebacker.
A woman alleged that he raped her in 2017.
“During this encounter Respondent D received a phone call from another student he answered and told him, ‘I am f----ing’ when asked what he was doing,” the Husch Blackwell report states. “The phone was knocked to the floor and he was on speaker phone.”
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The Baton Rouge Police Department investigated the case and declined to arrest him, citing “several inconsistencies” in the victim’s narrative. But during LSU’s separate Title IX investigation, Husch Blackwell identified a handful of errors: LSU never documented efforts to get copies of key evidence, like text messages, nor did LSU show that it had attempted to get the results of a forensic rape kit.
The file contained no information about whether LSU even tried to contact the person who called as the alleged rape was occurring, Husch Blackwell said.
LSU ultimately found Phillips, who said the sex was consensual, had not broken any rules. An attorney for Phillips did not return a message left with a family member Saturday.
“No explanation is provided for how the investigators assessed the relative credibility of the parties,” Husch Blackwell found.
Similarly, Husch Blackwell questioned how LSU’s Title IX office assessed the facts in a rape case involving Provens, a running back. Provens, who is referenced in the report as Respondent G, was arrested in 2019 on counts of third-degree rape. The criminal case against him is still pending. His attorney did not return a message on Saturday.
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LSU received two allegations of rape involving Provens. In the first instance, the one that resulted in his arrest, LSU found him not responsible for violating university policy based on the credibility of those interviewed. Husch Blackwell again found that “it is not clear how he arrived at his credibility determination.”
And Husch Blackwell found that LSU determined Provens was not enrolled anymore by the time officials received the second allegation, but the case file “does not explain the rationale for why the matter was not pursued further by the Title IX Office and who made this determination.”
When LSU did find football players responsible for misconduct, the punishments seemed lenient. LSU found in 2017 that a “highly recruited football player” was responsible for sexual harassment. A student reported that he made oral sex and masturbation gestures toward a female student and made lewd comments.
LSU responded with a modest sanction called “disciplinary probation.” It forbade him from studying abroad, but still allowed him to play the entire 2017 and 2018 football seasons. Even then, Husch Blackwell found that the player repeatedly failed to comply with the requirements of his discipline, which included taking classes on decision-making and a student health center referral.
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Unlike many of his teammates, Guice, who owns at least one rushing record at LSU, never even went through the Title IX process. Two women accused him of rape and another of video voyeurism, and a fourth allegation against him was raised in the Husch Blackwell report: that a 70-year-old Superdome security guard accused him of sexual harassment in 2017.
The grandmother told LSU that Guice grabbed himself in front of her, said “older women are my thing.” There was no record, however, that LSU’s Title IX office ever investigated.
“Despite at least four reports of sexual misconduct during his short tenure with the University, he was never put through the University’s disciplinary process,” Husch Blackwell said of Guice. “There also are no records that he was ever notified of these reports or that the University even intervened to provide him some targeted training.”
An attorney for Guice has denied any misconduct from his time at LSU, though he is facing criminal charges in a Virginia domestic violence case.
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In the most recent case involving a football player that Husch Blackwell reviewed, LSU received top marks.
Parker, a defensive end who is referenced in the report as Respondent I, was arrested last September on counts of battery on a dating partner and simple criminal damage to property. A student accused him of entering her room, destroying her belongings and shoving her into a dresser.
Title IX investigators jumped in, the victim was provided with access to a litany of resources and voiced her own satisfaction with the process, saying “I am happy to know that victims have a voice at LSU.”
After an investigation and a hearing that Parker did not participate in, LSU found him responsible for the allegations and expelled him, according to Husch Blackwell.
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Police issued another arrest warrant against Parker, who is from Ruston, this January, alleging that he repeatedly kicked a puppy named Kash, breaking the puppy’s leg and requiring an amputation. An attorney for Parker declined to comment Saturday.
Staff Writers Brooks Kubena and Lea Skene contributed to this report.