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$ 50m lawsuit alleges retaliation over allegations against coach

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – In a $ 50 million federal racketeering lawsuit, an associate athletic director at Louisiana State University accuses university officials of retaliating against her for reporting comments racist and inappropriate sexual behavior of former football coach Les Miles.

Sharon Lewis’ trial said she was denied pay increases and subjected to verbal abuse after contacting officials with the allegations against Miles – including her accusation that he told her that there were “too many black girls” employed in athletics and an incident occurred when a student accused him of “climbing on her” on the couch in her office. He also accuses LSU officials of working with a law firm to cover up allegations against Miles, including an allegation that he committed “explicit sex acts” with a student.

“This lawsuit is a work of fiction in the works for eight years,” Miles attorney Peter Ginsberg said in an emailed statement. Miles has denied the allegations that he made sexual advances to students.

Lewis, a former LSU athletics star, is the associate athletic director for football recruiting and alumni relations at LSU. His lawsuit, filed in Baton Rouge, is the latest blow to the university after an independent investigator determined the school had mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct by student athletes and Miles.

“We are disappointed that a 20-year-old employee, who has received several promotions throughout her career and currently serves as Associate Director of Sport, will now take legal action against the university,” said Winston DeCuir, lawyer for LSU, in an email. “Following the press conference of his lawyer, we believe that this trial is an attempt to take advantage of the situation for his personal benefit,” he added, referring to a press conference earlier in the week.

Many LSU officials refused to testify in Baton Rouge on Thursday at a legislative hearing into the ongoing scandal, sending DeCuir on their behalf.

Several LSU students told the committee that they did not believe university leaders were doing enough to improve the climate.

“It always feels like the university is waiting for everything to go away,” said Charlie Stephens, a sophomore at LSU’s School of Mass Communication.

Lewis ‘lawsuit says his complaints to LSU about Miles’ behavior resulted in retaliation from Miles, deputy executive director of athletics Verge Ausberry, associate senior director of athletics Miriam Segar and others . He also alleges the creation of a “company” whose members conspired to protect the university from complaints of sexual harassment and allegations of violations of federal law on sex discrimination “Title IX”. The alleged company included five current or former LSU board members, Ausberry, Segar, former athletic director Joe Alleva and attorneys from a law firm – Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips – hired by the university to investigate the allegations.

Vicki Crochet, a lawyer at Taylor Porter and accused in Lewis’s trial, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, in a letter to a state Senate committee, she defended Taylor Porter’s handling of the allegations. “We support our analysis and the extensive work we have done for LSU,” she wrote, saying student privacy was a major concern.

Miles was recently ousted from his job as head football coach in Kansas after the publication of a 148-page review by law firm Husch Blackwell on LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints across the board. of campus.

Lewis’ suit claims Miles in 2009 told him there were “too many black girls” employed by the athletics department. He says she refused to fire them.

Lewis said Ausberry ordered him to have Miles interview female students at night in his office. The costume says some of the women interviewed reported that Miles “asked them about their sex lives.”

Lewis said she ultimately suffered from mental breakdown due to the hostility and harassment.

The university hired the law firm Husch Blackwell after it reported by USA Today the LSU’s handling of sexual assault cases involving two former football players. Ausberry and Segar were briefly suspended without pay. Miles, who was LSU’s head football coach from 2005 to 2013, was ousted from his position as head football coach in Kansas after the publication of the company’s review of LSU’s handling of complaints. sexual misconduct.

Lawmakers expressed frustration on Thursday over the university’s refusal to fire sports department employees named in the investigation report.

“People saw bad actors, and there were no consequences,” said Senator Beth Mizell, the second Republican in the Senate.


McGill reported from New Orleans.

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