| USA TODAY
LSU students share stories of title IX cases ignored by LSU officials
A USA TODAY investigation found a pattern of LSU officials ignoring complaints against athletes and non-athletes alike.
After months of stonewalling, Louisiana State University turned over the remaining pages of a police report Wednesday to a woman at the center of USA TODAY’s investigation into the school’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints.
The report corroborates the account the woman, Samantha Brennan, shared with reporters, and which was featured in the news organization’s investigation published on Nov. 16. But the university shielded the names of everyone in the report except the officers. It said because no arrests were made, those involved in the incident – including the suspect, former LSU running back Derrius Guice – have a right to privacy under the state constitution.
Brennan and USA TODAY filed a joint lawsuit against LSU for full access to the records. A hearing is scheduled Monday in East Baton Rouge Parish District Court. Brennan said she plans to testify.
LSU for months had refused to release the records to Brennan and to USA TODAY, saying the case was still active because the statute of limitations to prosecute the alleged crime had not expired. But the documents obtained Wednesday showed no activity or investigation in the case since Brennan’s initial complaint more than four years ago.
The documents also showed that Brennan told officers at the time that she did not want to press charges.
“This level of evasion to protect any person – football player or not – who is accused of a crime is reprehensible,” said attorney Scott L. Sternberg, who is representing Brennan and USA TODAY in their lawsuit over the records request.
“To deny a victim the right to review her own investigation file is inhuman,” Sternberg said. “LSU’s callous institutional behavior must have consequences – and we will seek attorneys’ fees, costs, and arbitrary and capricious damages against LSU to the fullest extent of the law.”
LSU declined to comment for this story.
Brennan, a former student and part-time employee in LSU’s football recruiting office, reported to LSU athletics administrators and campus police in July 2016 that Guice had taken a partially nude photo of her without her consent and shared it with at least one other person.
Guice had just finished his freshman year at LSU at the time. He faced no discipline from the school and went on to have a breakout, record-setting sophomore season.
Federal law and LSU policy required the officials to report the information to the university’s Title IX office for investigation, but Brennan said no one from the office reached out to her.
This year, USA TODAY reporters investigating two rape allegations against Guice – one by a woman’s tennis player, the other by a student who was not an athlete – filed a public records request with LSU seeking all campus police reports involving him. In response, LSU provided reports for two noncriminal incidents involving Guice but did not provide Brennan’s report nor mention its existence, in violation of the state public records law.
Brennan’s report might have stayed buried had she not read USA TODAY’s August investigation about the rape allegations against Guice and contacted the reporters, alerting them that she, too, had had an incident with him. On Aug. 19, Brennan herself requested a copy of her police report.
LSU police records manager Theresa Griffin told Brennan that she was “having trouble finding” the report, and then ignored Brennan’s calls and messages until she called from a different phone number, Brennan said. LSU then provided Brennan a one-page, four-sentence “initial incident report” that lacked numerous key details, including Guice’s name and the fact he’d shared the photo with others, a felony in Louisiana.
When Brennan asked for the full report, she was told she could not have it because the six-year statute of limitations had not expired and that “criminal litigation” was still anticipated. But Brennan says she still does not want to press charges, and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office said campus police have never shared the case with prosecutors.
“It was such a slap in the face to have my calls purposefully ignored. The cherry on top was the initial report I received,” Brennan told USA TODAY. “How awful to read that ‘someone had taken a picture of me. No names, missing half of the crime, extremely vague.”
Brennan and USA TODAY sued LSU for access to the full report in October.
USA TODAY also sued LSU in mid-October for access to full police reports in three other cases involving football players, and the university produced them Nov. 13. But it redacted the names of the suspects, victims and witnesses, again citing Louisiana’s constitutional right to privacy.
LSU also is refusing to provide records to the tennis player who said Guice raped her. The woman and her attorney have called and written LSU repeatedly over the past three months, but the school has yet to produce a single document, they said.
Published at Fri, 20 Nov 2020 00:09:00 +0000