Former LSU athlete claims culture of intimidation discouraged victims from reporting sexual misconduct within athletic department

Former LSU athlete claims culture of intimidation discouraged victims from reporting sexual misconduct within athletic department
LSU Tennis (Source: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A former tennis player at LSU claims there was a culture within the athletic department that discouraged student-athletes from speaking up about sexual misconduct and violence.

The former athlete and athletic department intern who did not want to be named said she is speaking up after two women claimed they were raped by former football player Derrius Guice while they were students in 2016.

”If someone was to make you feel uncomfortable, just kind of ignore that, put it in the back of your head and move on, just don’t bring it up,” she said.

RELATED: REPORT: Two women claim Derrius Guice raped them at LSU

The woman said she was never sexually assaulted while a student but did say she experienced sexual harassment during her time in the athletic program at LSU. She said the policy for reporting such incidents was to meet with a coach or department superior, not police. Even then, she said she never felt comfortable reporting the harassment.

“You are a female and you don’t want to be the squeaky wheel because you don’t want to draw all the attention onto you,” she said. “So it was always kind of like, well, it was a privilege to be, one, playing for the university and when that’s all over it’s also a privilege to be interning in athletics.”

The former athlete said there was also a level of intimidation that came from higher ups in the department and there was a strong culture of “protect the program at all cost.”

That culture is highlighted in a lawsuit filed in Michigan accusing the NCAA of not doing enough to protect student-athletes.

One of the women claiming Guice raped her in her apartment after a night of drinking is listed on that suit as Jane Doe 4. Attorney Karen Truszkowski claimed in her suit LSU created a culture that protected the program and certain athletes, not victims, like her client.

“I don’t think the university is doing a very good job of addressing sexual assault and protecting their students,” Attorney Karen Truskowski tells WAFB.

In the suit, Truszkowski also alleges Guice knew there would be no disciplinary repercussions for his alleged actions and he would be protected because of his athletic status.

It is important to note, neither Guice nor LSU are explicitly mentioned in the suit, however, Truszkowski confirmed to WAFB Thursday those parties are mentioned in the suit using the generic names.

“Until they enforce and strongly have some kind of mandate that you can’t do this and get away with it people are going to, primarily young male athletes, are going to continue to do things and get away with it,” Truszkowski said.

Through his attorney, Guice vehemently denies the allegations levied against him.

“At no time were allegations of physical or sexual assault brought against Derrius during his years as a student-athlete at LSU,” Peter D. Greenspun said in a statement to WAFB. “To bring up such assertions only after the Virginia charges were initiated certainly calls into question the credibility, nature and timing of what is being alleged years later. Such speculation and innuendo should not be the basis for Derrius to be required to make any comment at all. But he wants to be absolutely clear: the allegations in this story are just that and have no basis in fact. The charges in Virginia will be dealt with in the courtroom and not through the media. Derrius continues to appreciate and be thankful for all of the continued support he has received during this difficult time.”

LSU Interim President Tom Galligan said Thursday on WAFB’s Nine News This Morning the university takes all accusations of sexual misconduct seriously and it is investigating the claims made in the USA Today article.

“We take every allegation of sexual misconduct very very seriously,” Galligan said. “It’s our goal ultimately to eradicate and eliminate sexual violence and misconduct from our campus. We are aware of the USA Today story and the claims. I can’t say too much about the details but I can say that during my time at LSU I would be surprised if we did not follow our procedures and our policies, of course I would also be concerned if we didn’t follow our procedures and our policies and what I can tell you is that since we’ve heard the story we’ve been investigating and we will continue to do so.”

WAFB has reached out to LSU numerous times about what LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron knew about the allegations against Guice at the time.

At the time of publication, no one has responded.

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