LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron issues statement to La. Senate committee, will not testify in person

LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron issues statement to La. Senate committee, will not testify in person

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron will not testify before the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children on Thursday, April 8 as requested by the Committee Chair, state Sen. Regina A. Barrow (D - Baton Rouge).

Orgeron issued a statement to the committee Tuesday, April 6 in lieu of testimony.

Two other top LSU athletic officials, Athletic Director Scott Woodard and Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar, also declined Tuesday to testify in person.

The committee asked Orgeron to testify after Gloria Scott, 74, testified on Friday, March 26 that she was contacted by Orgeron after being sexually harassed by former LSU and Washington Football Team running back Derrius Guice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2017.

Alleged victim of Derrius Guice tells lawmakers Coach Orgeron contacted her to have Guice apologize

Scott claimed Orgeron called her on the phone seeking her to accept an apology from Guice and forgive him.

Shortly after Scott’s testimony, LSU issued a statement in response:

“As detailed in the Husch Blackwell report, Coach Orgeron never had any direct communications with the complainant. He has and will continue to follow university protocols regarding reporting.”

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“It’s hard for me to believe that this woman at the age of 74 would drive from New Orleans to come here and lie. I don’t believe that she would’ve put herself out there, expose herself, drove all the way up here and came to say she had a conversation with him, and she did not. I don’t believe that,” Sen. Barrow said in response to LSU’s claims.

In his letter to the Senate committee, Orgeron called Guice’s behavior “utterly unacceptable” and applauded Scott’s courage to testify but denied speaking directly to her after the incident.

“Sometime in December 2017, an athletic department representative told me that Mr. Guice had disrespected an older woman and the representative wanted him to apologize. I was not given the details. I trusted our staff, and like them, believed that if Mr. Guice was disrespectful, he should apologize. The representative brought Mr. Guice to my office after our practice. I was given a number to call, I dialed, and a gentleman answered. I do not recall the gentleman giving me his name. I told the gentleman who I was, and that I was calling with Mr. Guice present, so that Mr. Guice could apologize to Ms. Scott. I do not remember my exact words or the entire conversation.

The gentleman said something to the effect that Ms. Scott did not want an apology, and that instead she requested that Mr. Guice not be able to play in the Citrus Bowl. The gentleman refused to put Ms. Scott on the phone unless I agreed to the terms upfront. I told the gentleman that I would have to get back to him. The conversation ended, as I was not prepared to suspend a student-athlete for a game without a discussion with the University and obtaining more thorough information,” Orgeron said in the statement.

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Barrow issued a statement Tuesday evening in response to Orgeron’s statement.

“Today, as Chair of the Select Committee on Women and Children, I received a statement from Coach Orgeron, Head Football Coach of LSU. While I appreciate receiving the statement, the Coach’s decision not to appear before the committee is troubling.

The committee outlined this process to get to the facts, place ownership and fault where it belongs, and to be sure that what took place never happens again. These hearings, along with all the work that our committee does is so important to the young women and men, and to Ms. Scott, who have been sexually assaulted, abused and/or raped, because they allow for a dialogue to take place and for questions to be answered.

The Coach’s statement does nothing to speak directly to the actions that occurred or to which action he took after he learned of the allegations. In fact, his statement seeks to discredit Ms. Scott’s testimony by drawing unfounded parallels between Ms. Scott and others. Coach Orgeron and all those involved in this matter owe it to those ladies to stop with this dismissive behavior and to own up to what occurred, taking responsibility for the actions that took place and the cover-up that followed. Only then can we begin to heal and work towards creating a more safe environment for our students and those who work alongside them.

As our work moves forward, the committee will continue to focus on uncovering the truth and finding those responsible for these acts, which is well within this committee’s oversight boundaries and the purpose for which it was formed. Our committee will work in whatever way we can to assist the Office of Civil Rights in their newly announced Title IX federal investigation into LSU’s handling of sexual assault and harassment cases among students and staff.”

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“At the same time, it is important to say that me speaking to Ms. Scott directly or not does not change the fact that what happened to Ms. Scott in 2017 is unequivocally wrong,” Orgeron later said.

He added he later learned “the gentleman” he spoke to in 2017, Cleve Williams, demanded $100,000 in compensation from LSU for Scott or have Guice benched for the Orange Bowl.

WAFB-TV obtained a recorded phone call, text messages, and a police report that corroborates Williams asked LSU for financial compensation on behalf of Scott.

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“As a leader, and as a father, son, and grandson, I want to emphasize that it is heartbreaking Ms. Scott was subjected to such crude remarks by Mr. Guice, and she should be respected for her bravery and resolve to provide her statements to the Committee. She, along with this Committee, has my word that I will continue to be vigilant in ensuring that the LSU football program maintains a culture of integrity and compliance,” Orgeron said.

The Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children has held hearings on LSU and called upon university officials to testify after Husch Blackwell, a third-party law firm, released a damning report of how the university mishandled past sexual assault cases on its campus.

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