BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new report by investigators at USA Today claims Louisiana State University officials mishandled sexual misconduct allegations against students, including several top athletes. When handled correctly by the institution, Title IX is meant help victims, but there are other resources outside of the institution.
You can read the full report here, which claims LSU failed to get the Title IX office or police involved when federal laws and school policies required it.
LSU officials say they take all Title IX cases seriously, earlier this week Coach Ed Orgeron said over a zoom conference,
“We have a legal and moral obligation to report every allegation to the university’s Title IX office.” When a student presents a case, officials should investigate, but the USA Today article says LSU failed to investigate multiple allegations from students. "
The school has a separate and independent obligation to investigate how it affects that student’s ability to obtain an education on campus. So, just passing the torch is not a means of taking Title IX seriously,” says Morgan Lamandre who is the legal director for Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR).
EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore says often in cases of sexual misconduct, victims do not want to report the incident to protect themselves or others.
“They don’t want to get into the criminal justice system, which is a tough system to be in for a victim, but particularly for a sex offense victim, and those cases generally do not come to our attention because there’s not an arrest and they do not want to report to police," Moore said. “Obviously, the thing we need to look at how we report, how we receive that information from the university standpoint and then law enforcement and how everybody works together to better serve and protect victims and our students at our universities.”
Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR) says while they partner with the LSU Women’s Center, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and the LSU Lighthouse Program, they have been ignored by other programs at the university, specifically the athletics department and Greek Life.
Lamandre tells WAFB that school officials have a responsibility to help the victim with safety measures, so victims don’t have to run into their attacker.
“Hiring a law firm to review all of our policies and procedures. That alone doesn’t necessarily mean anything will change. It’s not necessarily the polices that are the issues, it’s following through on them and enforcing them,” says Lamandre.
There is help for students outside of the university. Survivors can go to the Capital Area Family Justice Center and find all the resources they need under one roof.
“So, instead of us inversely referring to a survivor to different services all around town. They can come here and get most of the services they need,” says Renee Craft who is the executive director of the Capital Area Family Justice Center.
The center will provide counseling and legal services to those who are struggling with domestic violence, sexual harassment, and human trafficking. They do allow walk-ins, it is confidential, and most importantly it is free.
In April of 2017, STAR sent a letter to LSU’s then-president, F. King Alexander, then-athletics director, Joe Alleva, and Head Coach Ed Orgeron expressing concerns about how the athletics department was approaching its sexual assault prevention efforts.
“The fact that Derrius Guice was recently released by the Washington Football Team after being charged with domestic violence, and that recent reporting has uncovered a history of Guice committing dating violence and sexual assault that goes back to his time at LSU, should not be surprising given his attitudes about sexual assault that he publicly demonstrated at the time,” STAR said in a press release.
STAR received no response to this letter.
“In our work with students and survivors of sexual assault, the patterns we see align with information uncovered by USA Today’s reporting,” STAR said. "We have observed repeated instances where:
- LSU is reluctant to hold perpetrators of alcohol-facilitated sexual assault responsible in Title IX hearings, despite significant documentary evidence showing that a sexual assault was committed.
- LSU has repeatedly put the burden on victims to alter their lives and education (e.g., changing their class schedule) rather than putting the burden on perpetrators to do so, even when LSU has found these perpetrators responsible for sexual assault in campus proceedings.
- LSU students are not made aware of STAR’s free and confidential legal representation to survivors to ensure their rights are protected throughout the reporting process and administrative hearings. Instead, LSU typically refers students to on-campus victim advocates that are not attorneys and would also have a conflict with advocating for survivors when the school response is deficient.
- LSU has not taken action to address internal Title IX processes that students have complained are not working as intended."
If you are struggling with sexual assault call the STAR Hotline is 1-855-435-STAR. If you would like to schedule an appointment with the Family Justice Center, you can call 225-239-7880.
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