’Words can’t express how deeply troubling it is’: LSU interim president addresses report that university mishandled sexual misconduct claims

’Words can’t express how deeply troubling it is’: LSU interim president addresses report that university mishandled sexual misconduct claims
Memorial Tower on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La. (Source: Nick Gremillion)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU Interim President Tom Galligan issued a letter to the campus Thursday, Nov. 19 addressing a USA Today investigative report published Monday, Nov. 16 claiming, in recent years, the university mishandled several sexual misconduct allegations against students, including several top athletes.

“Words can’t express how deeply troubling it is to face the prospect that LSU may have mishandled alleged cases of abuse or sexual assault,” Galligan said.

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Galligan said while the university has made accomplishments in reporting, investigating, and processing Title IX claims, “One victim of sexual assault on our campus is one too many, and the same holds true for anyone whose report is not properly handled,” he said.

The interim president said LSU has hired an independent law firm, Husch Blackwell, to review its Title IX policies and procedures. Galligan also said he and Executive Vice President Stacy Haynie will be meeting with LSU’s student leaders, faculty and staff, and consult with the Baton Rouge Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) Center.

The following is the full letter sent to the LSU campus by LSU Interim President Tom Galligan:

Dear LSU Community,

When I was named Interim President nearly one year ago, I pledged to you all that I would remain open, transparent and communicative no matter what the situation. Keeping that promise, I write to update you on our efforts to improve the handling of sexual violence and Title IX violations at LSU. This week we have heard much about the issue of sexual assault on our campus. Today we must accelerate that work.

First, I want to thank the victims who stepped forward in recent days to share incidents of abuse or sexual assault they have not previously reported or believe haven’t been handled properly at LSU. I can only imagine how difficult that has been for them, and I appreciate their courage, which is inspirational and provides us with the determination to do better.

Words can’t express how deeply troubling it is to face the prospect that LSU may have mishandled alleged cases of abuse or sexual assault. In recent years, we have accomplished a lot in our reporting, investigating and processing of Title IX claims, but we can, will, and must do better. One victim of sexual assault on our campus is one too many, and the same holds true for anyone whose report is not properly handled.

We must admit those instances where we have not lived up to our high ideals; hold ourselves accountable; and commit to doing better in the future. Perfection may not be attainable, but in pursuing it we will become a safer, more informed, and more compassionate community.

Of course actions will always speak louder than our words. That’s why we’ve commissioned Husch Blackwell to conduct an independent, comprehensive review of our Title IX policies and procedures. We chose this firm for its expertise in higher education law as well as its objectivity. We don’t have any ongoing business relationship with Husch Blackwell at any of our LSU campuses, health sciences centers, or foundations. Their investigation should wrap up in early spring, and, once rendered, will be delivered in a report available to the public. We will deal swiftly and appropriately if the findings show indifference or mishandling of cases on the part of anyone at LSU. In the meantime, we will continue to investigate every report of violence or sexual abuse, and we will hold those responsible accountable.

Executive Vice President Stacy Haynie and I are meeting with LSU’s student leaders to hear more about their experiences and perspectives, and we are seeking input from faculty and staff on their ideas about improving our processes. We are also consulting with the Baton Rouge Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) Center as we work to do better in the future.

To our students: please know that we have a number of resources available to victims of sexual trauma and assault, including:

I will share more with you about this matter as there are further developments. Until then, I want to remind you that we all play a role in making our campus a better place for all, and we are all responsible for reporting any instances of violence or sexual abuse that we witness on our campus. If you need to make a report, please call LSU’s Title IX Office at 225-578-3918.

Sincerely,

Thomas C. Galligan, Jr.LSU Interim President and Professor of Law

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