LSU Was Exposed for Covering Up Sexual Assault Allegations Against Football Players: Then What?

Foggy Night at Death Valley” by darrellrhodesmiller is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

An explosive USA Today investigation revealed that LSU ignored the law and their own disciplinary protocol when handling sexual misconduct allegations against 9 of their football players. 

Most shocking of all was what the investigation revealed about how far LSU went to cover up rape and sexual assault allegations against the school’s star running back Derrius Guice. 

In 2016, Guice had numerous rape and sexual assault allegations filed against him. One allegation said that Guice raped a girl when she passed out at a party while another explained that he took partial nude photos of a female student without her permission and then shared them with others. In 2017, another rape allegation was lodged against Guice. 

LSU officials ignored all of the reports of rape and sexual assault, allowing Guice to continue his football career and enabling him to assault and rape more women on campus. This not only violated any decent human’s moral code, but it also violated federal laws and LSU’s own policies. 

And this was just one case that LSU swept under the table, preferring to ignore the trauma of its students and enabling sexual predators to continue their actions unreprimanded. 

Officials in LSU’s athletic department have routinely ignored complaints against abusers, denied victims’ protection requests, and have allowed victims’ perpetrators to subject them to further harm. 

Football players Jacob Phillips and Zach Sheffer were accused of rape and received no punishment from the school. Grant Delpit, the team’s safety, was accused of recording a woman during sex without her knowledge and sharing the footage with others. Seven LSU officials had direct knowledge that football player Drake Davis was assaulting and strangling his girlfriend and did nothing about it. 

At least 9 LSU football players have been reported to police for sexual misconduct over the last few years but the details of how LSU handled the complaints have largely remained secret. Of the 9, only 2 have been formally disciplined —Peter Parrish, a quarterback who received a suspension for 1 year after he raped a woman in a car outside a bar, and Davis who was expelled 10 months after he’d already left school. 

After the article was released, LSU’s head football coach Ed Orgeron addressed the allegations in a statement explaining, “LSU does not tolerate sexual assault or any form of abuse.” LSU echoed Orgeron’s sentiment in their statements, clearly ignorant to the fact that actions speak louder than words. 

The USA Today investigation’s author, Nancy Armour pointed out that LSU and Orgeron’s statements do not contain any denials, explaining “They didn’t refute what we had found.”

Following the investigation’s publication, the law firm Husch Blackwell released a report on how LSU has handled allegations of rape and dating violence. 

The 150-page report was shocking, leading to LSU’s interim President Tom Galligan announcing changes to the school’s Title IX procedures, and suspending the executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry and senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar. A former LSU coach, Les Miles, was let go from his position at Kansas following the report which revealed that he had a pattern of “inappropriate behavior” with female students at LSU.  

The report detailed a “failure of leadership” at LSU which Husch Blackwell explained did not sufficiently staff or fund its Title IX office. The report focused on allegations against 10 different LSU football players over the last few years. 

The report also led to Louisiana’s Senate Select Committee on Women and Children holding a hearing last week in which survivors, administrators, legislators, and advocates spent 10 hours discussing LSU’s mishandling of sexual assault allegations. 

During the hearing, LSU’s interim president Tom Galligan was grilled over merely suspending Ausberry and Segar, although it was made clear that they had actively lied about sexual assault cases that were reported to them. 

To rebut this, Galligan said, “If they don’t tell the truth again, they’ll be terminated” noting that reporting rules were previously murky because Athletic Department employees were instructed not to report Title IX complaints through normal channels. 

You read that correctly. They were told NOT to report Title IX complaints through the appropriate channels. 

Jade Lewis, the tennis player who had been repeatedly violently assaulted by her boyfriend Drake Davis, which 7 LSU officials were aware of, gave an emotional testimony. “I was beaten around 15 times, multiple times after he was arrested,” Lewis said. “I sustained broken ribs, bruises and bruising on my neck from strangulation.” 

Abby Owens came forward to testify about the trauma she endured, first in being raped by Derrius Guise, and then in having to see the school do absolutely nothing about it. She explained “I felt so unappreciated, unvalued, I was scared to be there. I felt unsafe, unprotected.” 

One of the main issues focused on by the committee was the lack of access victims had to their own records and police reports, having to jump through major hoops to actually gain access to them. 

At the end of the hearing, the committee read a statement that requested LSU reconsider and intensify the punishments it levied on employees who enabled the assaults and that the university continue to identify and discipline people who were involved in the cover-up. 

Following the hearing, Galligan released an action plan with steps the university will take to improve its response to sexual assault and rape allegations. 

Galligan said that the action plan will follow recommendations in the report that Husch Blackwell filed. The action plan includes appropriately staffing and expanding the Title IX office, partnering with Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR), working with the Lighthouse Program, changing the reporting line for the Title IX Coordinator, enhanced training for student-athletes, clarifying mandatory reporting obligations, establishing timelines for resolutions, and applying the rules to everyone, amongst other new policies. 

Whether the school will actually begin to prioritize rape, violence, and sexual assault survivors is yet to be seen.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *