LSU’s Orgeron accused of ignoring rape accusations against players in amended Title IX lawsuit

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FILE – In this Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 file photo, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron reacts after a LSU touchdown in the first half of an NCAA football game against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This is the rare SEC team whose schedule might have gotten a tad easier by playing a conference-only slate. The SEC opponents added to LSU’s schedule last month were Missouri (6-6 last season) and Vanderbilt (3-9). LSU had to drop a scheduled home date with No. 14 Texas, though its other non-conference games would have been lackluster matchups with Rice, Nicholls and Texas-San Antonio. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — Football coach Ed Orgeron was added as a defendant to the far-reaching Title IX lawsuit against LSU for how it mishandled sexual assault and harassment allegations. Court records show the lawsuit was amended Friday to add the coach, as well as allegations against a former football player and a faculty member.

Lawyers representing alleged rape victim Ashlyn Robertson issued a statement Monday that provided context to the amended lawsuit that now contradicts statements Orgeron made when accusations against a former player were brought to his attention.

According to the latest filing, Robertson’s boyfriend at the time told Orgeron about the rape accusations against one of his players in 2016. The coach told the boyfriend not to be upset because “everybody’s girlfriend sleeps with other people,” the lawsuit said.

USA Today first reported Robertson’s claims last year without naming her. Orgeron issued a statement after the report was published, denying he knew about the rape allegations and labeling the quote attributed to him as inaccurate.

Robertson has since gone public and is one of two former LSU students who have leveled rape accusations against Derrius Guice, a running back who played at LSU from 2015-2017. An attorney for Guice has previously denied all allegations against his client.

The amended lawsuit also added allegations from former student Corinn Hovis, who added her name as a plaintiff in the case. Her accusations are against a “highly recruited quarterback” at LSU, identified by the pseudonym John Loe.

Hovis said she was heavily intoxicated at a Tigerland bar in January 2020 when she agreed to leave with Loe, who led her to an SUV, according to the lawsuit.

Hovis “blacked out almost immediately” and was raped in the SUV, the lawsuit said. LSU Police investigated the assault, and the victim filed a Title IX complaint against the quarterback. His punishment was a three-week suspension from the university in May 2020, and he was ordered not to contact his accuser.

The lawsuit said Loe contacted Hovis through his girlfriend. The violations of the order were reported to the university, which did not take any disciplinary action against the player. He transferred to play football at another university in August.

The timeline of events lines up with the suspension and transfer of former LSU quarterback Peter Parrish, who is now a student and football player at the University of Memphis. Parrish filed a Title IX lawsuit against LSU in May 2020 that alleges the school did not afford him due process when accusations were brought against him.

Sarah Beth Kitch, a former graduate student in LSU’s political science Ph. D. program, also added her name as a plaintiff in the Title IX case. She alleges a professor, identified in court records as John Moe, sexually harassed and assaulted her.

Kitch was 18 and the youngest student in the Ph. D. program when Moe offered her three separate scholarships that she depended on to remain in the program, according to the lawsuit. Moe was Kitch’s dissertation adviser and 59 years older than her. He regularly reminded her “not only of his power over her as a professor and academic advisor, but also his power over her because of his sex and age,” the court filing said.

According to the lawsuit, Moe’s harassment gradually increased during her time at LSU, including requests that Kitch wear high heels and sexual propositions. Other professors within the department also treated graduate students in the same manner, the court filling alleges. Graduate students they had the option of taking on additional undergraduate grading assignments from male professors or performing sexual favors.

The professor also requested that Kitch come to his house alone at night and demanded that she drive him to and from campus after he became disabled, the lawsuit said. “Kitch was afraid to drive alone with Moe, but again she felt like she could not say ‘no,'” according to the amended court complaint.

Moe also allegedly used his disability to get Kitch to come to his house and “help him off the floor.” In a March 2013 incident detailed in the complaint, Kitch went to Moe’s house and found him “sitting on the couch surrounded by several wine bottles.” Moe demanded Kitch kiss him. When she refused, he grabbed and forcibly kissed her.

The Tiger Athletic Foundation, the private fundraising arm for LSU sports programs, was also added the the Title IX as a defendant.

Because sexual misconduct allegations against LSU athletes were ignored or improperly handed, “… the student-athletes are not negatively impacted or prevented from concentrating on their athletics, all of which benefits both LSU and TAF financially and causes further harm to plaintiffs…” the amended complaint said.

Following a series of USA Today reports on the mishandling of sexual misconduct at LSU, the university conducted an internal investigation. To date, its discipline has been limited to the suspension of two high-ranking employees in its athletic department for failing to report sexual assault and violence claims made against Guice and former wide receiver Drake Davis.

The lack of disciplinary action prompted the Louisiana Legislature to craft and approve laws that make the reporting of sexual misconduct mandatory on college campuses in the state and require the schools to forward a compilation of complaints to the state’s higher education oversight panel.

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