NCAA sued by 7 women for failing to protect in alleged sexual abuse by male athletes

The national office of the NCAA in Indianapolis is shown Thursday, March 12, 2020. The NCAA canceled the men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments amid coronavirus fears on Thursday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Seven women filed a lawsuit against the NCAA saying the organization failed to protect individuals from alleged sexual assault. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Seven women, including three athletes, filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on Wednesday alleging the organization had an obligation to protect them from alleged sexual abuse by male athletes but failed to do so, ESPN reported.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The women are from three universities in different states: Michigan State, Nebraska and an unnamed Division I school in the America East Conference.

NCAA sued for failing to protect women

Emma Roedel, a sprinter at Michigan State named in the suit, told ESPN they filed as a group to show “this isn't just one of us. It is all of us. And if this is happening to all of us, you need to do something and take action.’”

It is not a Title IX gender discrimination lawsuit, the standard suit filed against universities accusing them of mishandling complaints around sexual assault.


The NCAA "knew or should have known that their actions or inaction in light of the rate and extent of sexual assaults reported and made known to [the NCAA] by male student-athletes ... would cause harm to female student-athletes and non-student-athletes at NCAA member institution campuses in both the short- and long-term," the lawsuit states.

It states, based on NCAA documents dating back to 2010, that the NCAA is obligated to protect its students and minimize the “risk of injury or danger to student-athletes and by student-athletes." The lawsuit accuses the organization of failing to divulge the “special risks” related to sexual violence, for failing to take action against those who have reportedly committed the crimes and for “failure to monitor” Title IX investigations and responses.

MSU sprinter says she was raped by teammate

Roedel said she was raped by a male teammate in March 2017. She also filed a separate Title IX lawsuit against Michigan State, which is still dealing with fallout from the Larry Nassar abuse scandal.

Per the lawsuit, when Roedel told an assistant coach about the incident, the coach told her if she pursued it she would not be liked and “because Roedel is ‘pretty’ she would become a 'distraction.'"

Bailey Kowalksi, an MSU student who filed a Title IX complaint in 2018, is also listed on the lawsuit. She said she was raped by three members of the basketball team and the school’s counselors failed to properly respond to the report.

She came forward a year ago to be an example for the “silent survivors.”

Nebraska students file complaints

Capri Davis, 20, played for Nebraska’s top-10 ranked volleyball team but took a medical leave of absence last fall and transferred to Texas in December. She said she did so in part because the university failed to respond to her April 2019 report that two football players grabbed her buttocks as well as that of a friend’s at a party.

When a rumor circulated she was pregnant with a child of a football player while she was on indefinite medical leave, she was advised by communications staff to address it, per the lawsuit. Davis denied the rumors on Twitter, though the rumored father was not asked to do so. Per the lawsuit, no one offered to investigate the sexual harassment she received due to the rumor nor help her with the fallout, which was prevalent on Twitter from Huskies supporters.

Per ESPN, the lawsuit’s description of the men indicate it is Katerian LeGrone and Andre Hunt. LeGrone and another teammate were named in the anonymous friend’s lawsuit that said they raped her in August 2018. No finding was made against them.

LeGrone and Hunt were criminally charged with first-degree sexual assault in a separate case filed in August 2019. The woman in that case said they had sex with her without her consent. The Title IX office found them responsible and expelled them earlier this month. A criminal judge sent LeGrone’s case to district court around the same time.

Another former Nebraska student was also a part of the filing. Sheridan Thomas said her grades suffered when she was raped by a male student-athlete in August 2015 and she was denied any assistance unless she opened a formal investigation, which she was afraid to do. When she did, the investigation was not handled correctly and had incorrect or missing information, per the suit.

Swimmer advised filing would do nothing

A female swimmer at an America East Conference school reported in October 2019 that she was raped by a male basketball player. Per the lawsuit, an athletics employee told her that triggering a Title IX process would not result in the man being suspended because, per ESPN:

It "wouldn't be fair to other players” and it “would have a negative impact on the community' who attended games expecting to see [him] play."

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Originally published