LSU’s Failure To Investigate Sexual Misconduct Goes Beyond Football
6:28 PM EST on November 16, 2020
USA Today published a follow up today on its reporting earlier this year about two women who both said they were raped by former LSU and Washington Football Team running back Derrius Guice. According to the paper's reporting, LSU failed to investigate what happened, which is mandated by federal law. Today's story, done by Kenny Jacoby, Nancy Armour, and Jessica Luther, goes into detail with multiple examples involving other students and athletes of what it called "failure to adequately address sexual misconduct."
The story also notes that this was not an issue isolated to the football team: Two women said a fraternity member sexually assaulted them and, even though LSU officials determined that the sexual assaults happened, refused to move the fraternity member out of classes he shared with one of the women. A third accusation against the fraternity member, per USA Today, was ignored. And in multiple cases, students found responsible for sexual assault were allowed to stay on campus, either on a form of probation or by having their suspension deferred.
LSU also has been making it difficult for reporters and even former students to access public records regarding investigations of accused sexual misconduct. USA Today only learned about one police report, despite filing a public records request, when the woman who made the report contacted the publication. USA Today said it had to sue to gain access to multiple police reports, and that the university still has not provided copies of police and Title IX documents to two women who asked for copies of their own files.
LSU responded to the story with a statement saying that "putting an end to sexual assault is an institutional priority, and we are constantly working to achieve that goal.” On Monday, football coach Ed Orgeron told reporters, "I have in the past and will continue to take appropriate action and comply with reporting protocols. I have confidence today that the university is working to address our policies and processes when allegations arise."
The majority of the article focuses on two former football players, Guice and wide receiver Drake Davis. Former LSU student and part-time football team employee Samantha Brennan said that Guice took nude photos of her without her permission and shared them with the football team. She found out about it from a football team co-worker. Brennan filed a report with campus police but didn't want charges pressed. Brennan said she talked with LSU's head of football recruiting, Sharon Lewis, and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar about what happened. Even though college policy would have required Segar or Lewis to report what happened to the Title IX office, Brennan told USA Today that she never heard from them.
The article also details how "at least seven LSU officials" knew that football player Drake Davis was physically abusing his girlfriend at the time, an LSU tennis player. The abuse started in 2017, not too long after they started dating. LSU officials told police that they didn't hear about the possible abuse by Davis until 2018. But the woman told USA Today that she told a team athletic trainer, Donavon White, about the violence in 2017. Her father said that he reported it to one of the tennis coaches, Mike Sell, in 2017, and phone records corroborated the calls. Another former tennis player said she told tennis coach Julia Sell about it multiple times in 2017 but, “They just didn’t care, or they didn’t believe her.”
LSU did appear to finally start following the law in April 2018, after the woman went to LSU athletic trainers for an exam because Davis, she said, punched her in the ribs and she was in pain. She then told White, senior athletic trainer Micki Collins, and senior associate athletic director Segar about what had happened. Segar filed a Title IX report. That same month, Davis told deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry via text message that he had punched the woman, according to police records obtained by USA Today. And police were called to the woman's home that June when her roommate called them to report her screaming. Police wrote in their report that Davis, using a key he had, went inside the apartment and attacked the woman, strangling and hitting her. After police arrived, the woman and Davis told police they had been yelling but not in a physical fight. Two months later, the woman told police the full version of what happened.
“I was scared,” the woman told USA Today. “Obviously football has the power. I thought LSU would kick me out, or that something would happen to my scholarship.”
LSU finally began an investigation, but no significant steps were taken until police charged Davis with felony dating violence in August, at which point he was suspended from football. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to two batteries, per the report, and was arrested four months later when a different dating partner accused him of battery.
The article says that records show at least nine LSU football players have been reported to law enforcement for possible sexual misconduct since Orgeron took over the football program, which includes Guice and Davis. The others are:
- Quarterback Pete Parrish, who was accused of raping a woman. Per USA Today, Parrish was suspended for one year by the university. He has since transferred to the University of Memphis and issued a denial through his lawyer.
- Running back Tae Provens, linebacker Jacob Phillips, and tight end Zach Sheffer all were accused of rape. Only Provens has been criminally charged. All declined to comment, and Scheffer hung up on a reporter.
- Safety Grant Delpit was accused of recording a woman during sex without her knowledge and sharing the video. Delpit has not been criminally charged. Delpit's lawyer said he had no idea a police report had been filed until contacted by reporters.
- Defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Ray Parker were accused of dating violence. Godchaux was not charged in court, per the report, and Parker's case is pending.
You can read the full story by going here.
Correction (7:15 p.m. ET): This post has been updated to reflect that Parrish was suspended by LSU for one year. He was not criminally convicted.