Published: April 8, 2021
By: Kathleen Peppo | LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–State senators on Thursday took turns blasting LSU for its failures on sexual assaults at a hearing at which not a single LSU official listed on the agenda was in attendance.
The Senate Select Committee on Women and Children had called for the testimony of nine LSU employees and one attorney at Taylor Porter, a Baton Rouge law firm that represents LSU, on how it has handled sexual assault complaints involving football players and others.
But the LSU officials, including Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron and Athletic Director Scott Woodward, opted to send written testimony instead, and only Winston DeCuir, LSU’s vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, showed up to testify in person.
DeCuir said he had advised the others not to attend after a former LSU football employee said she was bringing a $50 million suit against the university. The suit, filed Thursday, alleges that Les Miles, Orgeron’s predecessor as head coach, had sexually harassed her and that her superiors and coworkers retaliated against her after she reported it.
“Based on the announcement of threatened litigation, I have to be cautious in that circumstance,” DeCuir said. “The only prudent step was to caution the university they should not be giving testimony under oath on these issues with a threatened lawsuit coming down the pipe.”
But Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, was having none of that.
“Heads need to roll, and we’re not going to just believe people’s written statements,” Peterson said. She said the scandal “warrants dismissal of some of the players.”
Allegations of rape and sexual violence by former LSU football star Derrius Guice and others have surfaced, sparking criticism that LSU has ignored or mishandled reports of sexual misconduct.
Peterson and other lawmakers have been upset that LSU has only suspended two athletic employees temporarily in response to the revelations. Meanwhile, former LSU president F. King Alexander has had to resign from Oregon State University and the University of Kansas has fired Miles as its football coach over other harassment allegations from his days at LSU.
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