KJK Student & Athlete Defense/Title IX attorneys Susan Stone & Kristina Supler Speak With ESPN Regarding Their Representation of a Suspended LSU Football Player.
By Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
An LSU football player suspended for a Title IX violation filed a complaint against the university Thursday, alleging it made an “unjust and discriminatory decision… following a biased, flawed, confusing and unlawful process.”
The player, who is not identified in the complaint, in March was found responsible for the violation, which alleges that he engaged in nonconsensual sexual intercourse with a female LSU student. In May, LSU suspended the player for a year.
The complaint asks for LSU’s decision to be vacated and for the player to be reinstated to the school’s football team on a full athletic scholarship.
An LSU spokesman said the school cannot comment on pending litigation.
According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, the suspended LSU player met a female student at a bar near campus on the night of Jan. 23. The player asked the female student if she wanted to have sex and she agreed. Afterward, he accompanied her to her dorm, where the two parted ways, the complaint states.
Attorneys for the suspended LSU player say the school did not provide the player an opportunity to have a hearing or review evidence or witnesses against him before concluding its investigation March 6. The complaint states that Jeffrey Scott, LSU’s lead Title IX investigator, failed to inform the player that both the university and Baton Rouge police departments were contacted about the incident and did not respond to several voicemails asking for status updates about the investigation before its conclusion.
“LSU has a very confusing policy where you have to jump through a number of hoops before you’re even allowed for a hearing,” said Susan Stone, one of the attorneys representing the suspended player. “If they find you responsible, then you get an appeal process, and only then, when two, three different layers find you responsible, do you have a hearing. So you’re already stigmatized as being responsible before you’ve had an opportunity to confront or cross-examine your accuser. How is that fair?”
The player’s complaint states that LSU’s Title IX office twice communicated with the woman and her family in late January and provided the player a general notification, in early February that provided no details about the alleged violation, a violation of the player’s rights. LSU’s football team suspended the player Feb. 6, pending the result of the Title IX investigation. Stone said LSU’s failure to properly explain the Title IX process to the player is “a Title IX violation in and of itself.”
According to the complaint, LSU’s investigation into the alleged violation contains inconsistencies in the player and the woman’s account of the incident, noting that the woman said that she vomited twice while returning to her dormitory with the player, while the player stated that the woman did not vomit or provide any evidence that she was intoxicated that night. LSU’s report also noted: “Silence alone, without actions evidencing permission, does not demonstrate consent,” but the player contends that the woman said “yes” when he asked if she wanted to have intercourse.
“We really made an extensive and earnest effort to try avoid having to file a lawsuit,” said Kristina Supler, one of the player’s attorneys. “However, LSU gave us no choice by denying the process that was due to our client and demonstrating an unwillingness to reach any sort of mutually agreeable path forward. LSU had a variety of sanctions that could have been identified. Without affording the full process allowed for our client to say, ‘I didn’t do this,’ the sanction was imposed to suspend him for a year.
“It is a very, very harsh sanction, with not only academic implications, but also the impact on a promising athletic career as well.”
The suspended player is not enrolled at LSU and has not entered the NCAA transfer portal. According to the complaint, LSU assistant Mickey Joseph in early May asked the player’s family to reach out if he wanted to play football elsewhere.
“This type of finding will follow you,” Stone said, “and it is very unlikely that a receiver school would want to accept our client. Basically, without due process, his career has been destroyed.”
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