Cal employee fired after WNBA star's, multiple former athletes' claims of sexual harassment upheld in Title IX investigation

An internal Title IX investigation by the University of California-Berkeley backed up claims of sexual violence and harassment by an athletic department employee who has since been fired, ESPN reported on Thursday.

Mohamed Muqtar, who worked in the Cal athletic department for nearly 25 years, was fired on May 11 after being placed on investigatory leave in December. Multiple former female student-athletes, including WNBA All-Star Layshia Clarendon, all claim to have been abused by the 61-year-old, dating back nearly two decades.

Clarendon, who currently plays for the Atlanta Dream, filed a civil lawsuit in January, which started the investigation into Muqtar. Clarendon claimed that Muqtar, the assistant director for student services at Cal, invited her to his home when she was 18 and sexually assaulted her after walking in on her while she was using the bathroom.

See Clarendon through her career: 

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WNBA All-Star Layshia Clarendon
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WNBA All-Star Layshia Clarendon
BRISTOL, CT - APRIL 15: WNBA President Laurel Richie poses with Layshia Clarendon after being drafted number nine overall by Indiana Fever during the 2013 WNBA Draft Presented By State Farm on April 15, 2013 at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
BRISTOL, CT - APRIL 15: The number nine overall pick Layshia Clarendon of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait during the 2013 WNBA Draft Presented By State Farm on April 15, 2013 at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 13: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait during the 2013 Media Day on May 13, 2013 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2013 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 10: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever scores on Atlanta Dream on August 10, 2013 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
TULSA, OK - JULY 25: Candice Wiggins #2 of the Tulsa Shock shoots against Tamika Catchings #24 and Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever during the WNBA game on July 25, 2013 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Shane Bevel/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 12: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait during 2014 WNBA Media Day at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 12, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
25 May 2014: Indiana's Layshia Clarendon in pregame warmups in Atlanta Dream 82-77 loss to the Indiana Fever at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Darrell Walker/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 6: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever looks to pass the ball against the Seattle Storm during their WNBA game on June 6, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 15: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever listens to Head Coach, Lin Dunn, during the game against the Los Angeles Sparks on July 15, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 29: Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever speaks to local kids about Choices for Champions, an educational program to promote anti-bullying before the preseason game against the Washington Mysitcs as part of WNBA Cares Week 2015 on May 30, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 14: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream shoots against the San Antonio Stars during the game on May 14, 2016 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - AUGUST 28: Head coach Stephanie White talks to Layshia Clarendon #5 of the Indiana Fever during a game against the Atlanta Dream on August 28, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2015 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 19: Layshia Clarendon #5, Natalie Achonwa #11 and Briann January #20 of the Indiana Fever smile and warm up before Game Two of the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Sky at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on September 19, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2015 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 30: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream handles the ball against the Los Angeles Sparks during a WNBA basketball game at Staples Center on June 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 13: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream goes for a lay up against the New York Liberty on July 13, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 28: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream handles the ball against the Connecticut Sun on August 28, 2016 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
AUSTELL, GA - MAY 10: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream poses for a photograph during WNBA Media Day on May 10, 2017 at the Riverside EpiCenter in Austell, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
UNCASVILLE, CONNECTICUT- May 13: Guard Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream in action during the Connecticut Sun Vs Atlanta Dream, WNBA regular season game at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 13, 2017 in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 19: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream handles the ball against the Washington Mystics on July 19, 2017 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 25: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream looks on during the game against the Phoenix Mercury on July 25, 2017 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 23: Layshia Clarendon #23 of the Atlanta Dream reacts during the game against the Seattle Storm during a WNBA game on August 23, 2017 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Basketball Player Layshia Clarendon arrives for the Premiere Of Fox Searchlight Pictures' 'Battle Of The Sexes' at Regency Village Theatre on September 16, 2017 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
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“Our primary goal as an athletic department is to support and provide an outstanding student-athlete experience, and it pains us to hear about these actions by one of our employees who they turned to as a trusted adviser,” the athletic department said in a statement. “The findings described in the report are appalling, wholly unacceptable and have no place in our department, on campus or anywhere.”

Muqtar told ESPN that he had “no comment” about the matter in January, and did not return calls made by them this week.

More than a dozen former student-athletes spoke to ESPN about their experiences with Muqtar.

Tess McCoy, who played volleyball from 1999-2004, remembered being warned about Muqtar, and described allegations of “inappropriate sexual discussions and late-night calls.”

From ESPN:

One night, McCoy says, she even found herself at Muqtar’s apartment. When he began rubbing her shoulders, she immediately left without saying anything. She never reported the interaction.

Another former athlete, who remained anonymous, described an incident in his car after she had been taken “under his wing” for several months.

From ESPN:

Then, one evening while he was giving her a ride in his car, he allegedly began moving his hand toward his crotch and said, “I think about these female athletes, and my d— gets hard,” according to the former student. She took this as an overture and immediately got out of the car.

“His M.O. was to prey on those who were vulnerable,” Kristy Patterson, a former swimmer at Cal who gave up the sport after three shoulder surgeries after one season, told ESPN.

Patterson wrote a letter to Cal’s senior associate athletic director of compliance Jay Larson last month, who is also Muqtar’s former supervisor, detailing his alleged behavior toward her.

“He played puppet-master with personal relationships I had with other fellow student-athletes,” Patterson wrote, according to ESPN. “He set up his prey by using other athletes as bait, falsely spreading rumors, upset those involved and would strike when the chaos level was just right. … He would call me late at night and ask me to give him details about how I liked to have sex, what I like to have done to me, and details about my partner and their body parts.

“This entire situation should be an embarrassment to the UC Regents, and the University of Cal athletic department. Failing to recognize inappropriate relationships with athletes by its employees and failing to listen to prior complaints about Mohamed is completely unacceptable.”

Per the ESPN report, many former athletes who have spoke out “suggested” that there are more current and former Cal athletes with similar experiences with Muqtar who simply aren’t ready to speak out yet.

Clarendon’s civil lawsuit has been dismissed by an Almaeda County Superior Court judge because the statute of limitations had run out. Clarendon plans to appeal that ruling.

“I don’t want it to be real,” Clarendon told ESPN. “I don’t want to acknowledge it. I even remember how hard it was to write those words: I’m a sexual assault survivor. These words still don’t feel like my own. And this is the hardest thing I’ve had to do.”

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