Seven women will file a federal lawsuit against LSU, the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) and several University administrators, The Advocate reported on Monday.
The women accuse LSU of prioritizing its reputation and football program above their safety and discouraging student victims from reporting Title IX offenses. They allege that the university retaliated against students when they did report.
The plaintiffs also allege that LSU violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the federal law used to prosecute organized crime syndicates.
"For years, LSU and the Tiger Athletic Foundation have ignored known systemic issues in LSU’s response to reports of sexual misconduct in favor of promoting and glorifying LSU student-athletes and coaches to reap the financial and reputational benefits of a venerated college football program," the lawsuit reads.
The plaintiffs include former women's tennis players Abby Owens, Jade Lewis and Kennan Johnson, former football recruiting office student worker Samantha Brennan and Calise Richardson, plus Elisabeth Andries, a current senior. They are seeking damages expected to exceed $5 million, as well as court and attorney's costs, USA Today reported.
Because the lawsuit is under class-action status, others who were harmed by LSU's actions from 2013 to present can potentially join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
"We have filed an action against LSU on behalf of the young women that have bravely come forward, the young people that are still afraid, and every young person who had the dream of going to LSU," Karen Truszkowski, an attorney for the women, told USA Today.
The lawsuit claims that TAF, the fundraising arm for LSU Athletics, solicited donations it received to "implement a deficient sexual misconduct education program and reporting scheme within the Athletics Department that was knowingly not able to meet the standards mandated by the NCAA or Title IX."
In addition to TAF, defendants in the lawsuit are LSU, the LSU Board of Supervisors, former President F. King Alexander, former Title IX Coordinator Jennie Stewart, Associate Dean of Students Jonathan Sanders, among others.
Other defendants from the Athletic Department include former Athletic Director Joe Alleva, Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry, Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar, Associate Athletic Director Sharon Lewis, tennis coaches Julia and Michael Sell and Assistant Director of Recruiting Keava Soil-Cormier.
Vice President of Communications Jim Sabourin told The Advocate Monday that the University had just learned of the lawsuit and did not have time to review it yet.
This is the second federal lawsuit that the University is facing amid its sexual assault and Title IX scandal.
This story will be updates as more information becomes available.