On Monday, Nov. 16, USA Today published an investigative report examining LSU’s mishandling of sexual misconduct by athletes, including former running back Derrius Guice and former wide receiver Drake Davis, and non-athletes alike.
Since the article’s publication, four women anonymously mentioned in the article have come forward in publicly sharing their identities on Twitter: history senior Sidney*, alumna Caroline Schroeder, a political science sophomore who wishes to remain anonymous and LSU tennis player Jade Lewis, who spoke out against tennis coaches Michael and Julia Sell for their statements following the article’s publication.
Sidney, Schroeder and the political science student were all sexually assaulted at different times by different non-athlete students and all underwent the Title IX office’s formal investigative process.
Their investigations, though, share many common threads. Their aggressors were all determined guilty at every point in the process. They all say that, overall, they feel failed by the Title IX process.
But most importantly, all three women either called on Title IX coordinator Jennie Stewart and/or Associate Dean of Students Jonathon Sanders, who determines punishments for aggressors, to either “show that they care” for victims or leave the University.
The Reveille contacted the Title IX coordinator for comment earlier this week, but was responded to by LSU Spokesman Ernie Ballard. When he was made aware of the calls for resignation, Ballard asked when we would need comment from Stewart and Sanders by, but failed to follow up on the Reveille’s response to schedule an interview.
Student 1: Sidney
Sidney first revealed her identity about 6 hours after the USA Today article was published, responding to a tweet by kicker Zach Von Rosenberg saying he “felt obligated to defend (his) coach.”
“I wasn’t gonna say anything but I’m one of the anonymous girls in this article,” responded Sidney. “Seeing tweets like this is especially disheartening and why I didn’t want my name on national news.”
Von Rosenberg later apologized publicly on Twitter for his comments, saying he did not intend “to take away from victims.”
You open your mouth on things you shouldn’t & all of a sudden it’s *tweets not loading* I wasn’t gonna say anything but I’m one of the anonymous girls in this article. Seeing tweets like this is especially disheartening & why I didn’t want my name on national news :( pic.twitter.com/skKeT2Qc85— sid🥚 (@eggsidney) November 16, 2020
Sidney first reported her sexual assault to the Title IX office about a week after the incident occurred on Oct. 31, 2018. Her aggressor, who at the time was a member of a fraternity no longer on campus, took advantage of her in the middle of the night after she passed out from drinking. He had driven her to his home.
Sidney said the Title IX office got in contact with her within a week, and she soon met with Title IX Lead Investigator Jeffrey Scott, who Sidney regarded as caring throughout the process. He determined the respondent to be guilty.
Sidney’s aggressor appealed the determination, meaning Title IX coordinator Jennie Stewart conducted a second investigation. Sidney had little communication with Stewart, but she determined him to be guilty as well. The aggressor appealed a second time in January 2019, which was denied later that month.
The investigation went silent for a month before Sanders with Student Advocacy and Accountability asked to meet with Sidney in order to determine punishment for the respondent.
“He (Sanders) is probably the worst person about the entire process,” said Sidney. “He was awful.”
Sidney said that Sanders’ questioning seemed very accusatory toward her, with his questions focusing on the length of her skirt and how much she drank. When her recount of the incident did not match her aggressor’s-- since Sanders met with him before speaking to Sidney-- he asked her to explain why the two stories did not match up.
“Probably because he’s lying?” said Sidney. “That’s not up to me.”
On March 21, almost 5 months since the report was filed, Sanders delivered the punishment of suspension for one year. The next day, the respondent appealed the outcome, undoing the suspension until after the University Panel Hearing of Student Advocacy and Accountability convened to re-evaluate the outcomes.
The Title IX office had not notified her that the suspension was undone, and Sidney saw her aggressor on campus soon after the appeal. She experienced multiple panic attacks that day as a result.
During her hearing with the panel, she and her aggressor sat in the same room together, answering questions from the panel along with cross-examinations from both her and the male student.
The panel gave him the final punishment: a deferred suspension, or probation, until his classes ended-- which was only two weeks away since he graduated that semester. He was also not allowed to go on campus for two years following his graduation.
“To me, who’s really going to go back to campus after they graduate?” said Sidney. “It doesn’t affect him. He still got to graduate; he still got to do whatever he wanted.”
The process from time of filing to the final hearing was five months, all of which Sidney said she spent worrying about seeing him on campus and struggling to complete academic work as a result.
Student 2: Caroline Schroeder
Less than 10 minutes after Sidney revealed her identity on Twitter, Caroline Schroeder, who graduated last Spring, also disclosed herself.
“Like Sid here, I was one of the anonymous girls in this article that didn't want my name in the national news, but I'm also finding it hard to sit back and watch quietly,” Schroeder wrote. “LSU did nothing but torture us for months, and I don't want anyone to forget that.”
Schroeder was sexually assaulted in October 2016, her first semester at the University, by a former fraternity member. She was at a fraternity event in New Orleans and, due to her intoxication, she decided to lie down on the bus. She woke up to her perpetrator groping her, whom she had never met.
She discovered months later, when she first shared the incident with close friends, that almost the exact same thing happened to another female student on that bus trip-- that student was Elisabeth Andries, who publicly identified herself in the USA Today article.
Schroeder filed a report in March 2019, and the office responded months later. Andries and Schroeder agreed to undergo the Title IX process together. Schroeder said she would not have gone through the process had she been alone.
“I didn’t intend to go through the Title IX process,” Schroeder said. “I just thought, ‘ok, if he’s done this to me and two other girls, he’s probably going to do it to someone again, so if anybody else files a report in future, they’ll see he’s done this before. That was my only intention.”
Like Sidney’s case, the student was determined guilty after multiple appeals. One of the key differences in Schroeder’s case is Stewart’s communications with her.
“Jennie Stewart, the Title IX coordinator, was the one I was constantly fighting,” said Schroeder. “It was her job to implement all these protections for us. It’s her job to make sure everybody follows policy. She broke the policy, and she did not enforce it when other people broke the policy.”
One example Schroeder gave of such policy being broken is when the accused first appealed Scott’s determination. Either party in a Title IX investigation has five business days to appeal, but the respondent did not appeal for 18 business days. Schroeder said Stewart told her that she was helping with the respondent’s appeal and that she did not have to justify her extension.
After Stewart determined he was guilty, the case went to Sanders for outcomes. He determined that the respondent needed two anger management courses and two semesters of deferred suspension, citing that Schroeder and Andries had holes in their stories.
One of these holes, Schroeder later found out, was that she cited the respondent’s fraternity president at the time of the incident as a contact to vouch for his predatory behavior. Sanders contacted three different presidents-- none of which were the one she gave by name.
They then appealed the outcome for the respondent, taking the case to the University Hearing Panel. It was in this panel hearing that the two women presented a third allegation against the respondent, but no one ever contacted her, according to USA Today.
The Panel determined that the punishment was not harsh enough and sentenced him to suspension for two semesters. Schroeder said it felt like a win for her considering that Andries had classes with the aggressor and the University had denied protections to keep her from seeing him.
I wrote an op-ed that hopefully inspires LSU admin and hopefully doesn't ruin my chances at LSU law school.Guest Column: LSU has good sexual misconduct policies. It needs to follow them. https://t.co/X7YFtEozDu via @IlluminatorLA— Lady Caroline (@careschroeder) November 20, 2020
But two weeks later, Andries saw him at a football game. The Title IX Office had not notified them that they granted him another extension to appeal. The University denied his appeal in October.
The Title IX office policy states that cases are performed in a prompt manner, indicating about 60 business days from start to finish. Schroeder’s case took about seven months to finish, which equated to over 130 business days.
“Step one is to just follow your policy,” said Schroeder. “So just start by following your policy and start by putting in people who are going to follow that policy. That means getting rid of people who don’t follow it-- getting rid of Jennie Stewart; getting rid of Jonathon Sanders. They’re the biggest issues as I see it in terms of just that process.”
Student 3: Political science sophomore
Less than an hour after Sidney’s first tweet, a third woman, a political science sophomore, revealed her identity on Twitter as well.
The woman was sexually assaulted by her best friend, an LSU student, last Spring after she invited him to spend the night at her dorm in Cedar Hall after receiving news about a family member’s illness. After her roommate fell asleep, he took advantage of her.
The next day, the man texted the student and her roommate an apology, admitting to the crime. She reported it June of this year and reached out directly to Stewart in order to ensure that her file would be seen. They responded to the case a week later, but the woman said that Stewart's response was rude and curt.
The woman had been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the incident, having experienced hallucinations, night terrors and panic attacks prior to filing her report. During her investigation, she said was experiencing daily panic attacks while trying to attend classes and complete schoolwork. She failed all but one of her final exams last Spring.
The student was found guilty and remained guilty through all of the appeals he made. The female student regarded her questioning with Sanders as “victim-blaming,” and that he was “the worst person in the entire process.”
She said she also experienced delays in the process-- she said that the office, on multiple occasions, would take two weeks to follow a protocol that they only had three days to complete.
The woman’s aggressor was placed on deferred suspension until May 2022 and issued a no-contact order on Sep. 9, 2020. She chose not to appeal the outcome or speak to a University Panel Hearing out of fear of speaking to the man or his lawyer.
“I don’t know if I could do that, especially in front of him,” the woman said. “And if nothing was to result from that, I could not handle it. I would probably drop out.”
During her process, the University also denied her request that he not be allowed to schedule classes that she is in. They said that once classes were scheduled, they could compare the schedules and transfer her to other classes if necessary.
She noted that she had also mentioned a previous sexual assault that her aggressor committed in high school, and the University did not follow up on that report. She later found out through USA Today reporter Kenny Jacoby that they were legally required to pursue an investigation into that incident.
“I mostly just wish that they cared and didn’t pretend to care,” said the woman. “Them pretending to care was the hardest part of it all. I just wish they had done the job that they had signed up to do, and that they genuinely cared about the people they are supposed to be helping.”
Throughout all these cases, each victim noted that Title IX lead investigator Jeffrey Scott and Lighthouse Coordinator Susan Bareis were kind, caring and helpful.
Since the USA Today report, the University has responded by hiring law firm Husch Blackwell to review their Title IX policies, procedures and how allegations were addressed in past cases. The University has also apologized for any and all past discrepancies in their investigative processes.
“Nobody is asking them, at this point, to change their policy,” said Schroeder. “That’s not what the (USA Today) article is about. So I think it’s ridiculous that they’re hiring a law firm to help them review how they might be better able to improve their policy because the policy is not the issue. The issue is that they were not following their policy.”
Sidney requested that her last name be redacted from the article. The political science sophomore asked that she remain anonymous to prevent any possible retaliation.