LSU gives files to law firm investigating school’s response to sexual misconduct claims

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana State University’s interim president maintains he is cooperating with the attorneys tasked with ruling whether the school mishandled years-old sexual violence complaints, notably against players on its football team.

Interim President Tom Galligan told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday that LSU has given more than 60 files so far to Husch Blackwell, the law firm hired to oversee the investigation.

“We want to get Husch Blackwell’s take on an analysis of who knew what when, what did they do, and what did they not do,” Galligan said.

The firm’s audit began after a Nov. 16 article from USA Today claimed the school ignored multiple claims from female students, most notably those made against student-athletes. At least nine LSU football players have been reported to police for sexual misconduct since Ed Orgeron became the team’s head coach in 2016, the article noted.

The USA Today article also revealed cases when LSU officials “either doubted the women’s stories, didn’t investigate, or didn’t call the police.” Federal laws and LSU policies require university employees to report on-campus sexual violence claims to a Title IX office and campus police for investigation.

“There have been those who have called for more immediate punitive action, and we hear you loudly and clearly,” said Galligan. “However, this is an extremely serious, complicated and critically important issue. We’re going to take the time to get it right.”

Galligan added he does not intend to discipline any school employees, students or administrators until Husch Blackwell finalizes its report. Its findings and recommendations will be made public.

Galligan, who became interim president in January, denied that the LSU football team’s high profile and defending-champion status would encourage softer penalties under his watch.

“This goes beyond football, and it goes beyond athletics,” he said. “We’re not going to play favorites with anyone.”

The interim president has voiced intent to seek the school’s highest office on a more official basis. Doing so requires going through a presidential search committee, of which one member — executive deputy director of athletics Verge Ausberry — has admitted not reporting football player Drake Davis’s admission to hitting his girlfriend in 2018. (Davis, who has since recanted his confession, pleaded guilty to battery in 2019.)

Galligan maintained he has no say on who serves in the committee, insisting his response to the Husch Blackwell findings will be impartial.

“I would not let my candidacy, in any way, get in the way of this investigation or of achieving justice in this case,” Galligan said.

“We’re also going to be as transparent as possible, as we work and move forward,” he added.

In a separate virtual news conference Monday, Orgeron responded more bluntly to the ongoing investigation.

“I’m not going to talk about any of that,” he told a reporter. “I’ve made a statement, and I’m not going to talk about none of that.”

(Here’s the statement Orgeron was referencing, which he gave USA Today in November: “We are committed to a culture of safety, equity and accountability for all students and staff. We provide education, training and resources to combat violence, sexual misconduct, and inequality. When we become aware of accusations, we have an obligation to immediately report every allegation to the University’s Title IX office so that appropriate due process can be implemented.”)

The Husch Blackwell report regarding LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct claims is due out in February. Before then, Galligan said employees must finish Title IX training before the 2020 calendar year ends.

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