NASHVILLE (CN) – In an amended complaint, six women accusing the University of Tennessee of improperly handling sexual assault reports involving male athletes now say football coach Butch Jones called a former player a “traitor” for helping one woman file a report.
Their original complaint was filed Feb. 9, alleging the University of Tennessee – Knoxville has not fixed a “severely hostile sexual environment of rape by male athletes” and has shown a “lack of promptness” in investigating reports.
Wednesday’s updated version of the lawsuit claims Jones, who took over as head football coach in December 2012, “ostracized” a player who spoke to one of the alleged victims.
The new allegations says one of the women, named in court records as Jane Doe 4, told then-football player Drae Bowles that she was raped by former football players A.J. Johnson and Mike Williams on Nov. 16, 2014.
She called 911 and reported the alleged rape from Bowles’s car after talking to him about the incident, and Bowles was punched in the locker room that same day, according to the amended complaint.
“Later that day (Sunday) Bowles was in the locker room when he was confronted by player Curt Maggitt. Maggitt was a roommate of A.J. Johnson and Geraldo Orta…Maggitt, who had heard that rape had been reported, asked accusing questions to Bowles about the events the night before. Bowles told Maggitt what had happened,” the complaint states. “Maggitt became violently upset, said that Bowles was trying to ‘fuck up AJ’ and suddenly punched Bowles in the mouth with great force, causing Bowles’s lip to bleed. Bowles fought back and threw punches before the fight and assault was broken up by teammates.”
Bowles then called Jones, who said “he was very disappointed in Bowles and that he had ‘betrayed the team,'” the 87-page amended lawsuit states.
“Bowles became extremely upset, broke down and cried,” the six women allege. “Several hours after this phone call Jones called Bowles and apologized for calling Bowles a traitor to the team.”
Bowles was “shunned by other teammates” and eventually transferred to the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga, according to the complaint.
Jones denied the allegations against him in a statement released through the university on Wednesday, saying he will “fight all of these false attacks on my character.”
“The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false. To the contrary, I did all I could to assist the former student in question,” the football coach said. “During the course of the judicial process, campus officials, as well as the young man’s own words, will clearly establish that I have done nothing wrong.”
The lawsuit says UT can’t deny that Johnson and Williams assaulted Jane Doe 4 in November 2014.
“The university’s investigation concluded that Johnson and Williams had committed a sexual assault and they invoked [the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act] to delay any suspension, sanction or discipline,” the 87-page amended complaint states. “Having charged Johnson and Williams with sexual assault after an investigation, UT is estopped from litigating or denying that a sexual assault occurred in the case of Jane Doe IV.”
The Bowles incident came a week after the athletic department surprised the football team with a visit from rapper Lil’ Jon, according to the complaint.
The alleged victims claim UT “acted with deliberate indifference in response to incidents of sexual assault” involving male, “major sports” athletes.
“Incidents involving athletes and misconduct, including specifically sexual violence, have been part of a hostile sexual environment and culture of the University of Tennessee Athletic Department for more than a decade,” the complaint states.
Former UT Vice-Chancellor Tim Rogers resigned in March 2013 “in protest over the violations of Title IX and the UT administration’s and athletic department’s deliberate indifference to the clear and present danger of sexual assaults by UT athletes,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint mentions a number of previously reported incidents, including the arrests of former football players on charges of assault, theft, underage drinking and driving under the influence.
It also names five athletes and accuses them of sexual assault: former football players Johnson, Williams and Riyahd Jones, former basketball player Yemi Makanjuola, and a John Doe, who they say is currently on the UT football team.
The six women also allege that the university’s administrative hearing procedure is “one-sided” and “denies victims the rights to a hearing and to the same equal protection, hearing and process rights as given to perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.”
“Chancellor [Jimmy] Cheek appoints administrative judges and hearing officers favorable to athletes and then also decides any appeals from [the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act] hearings in a clear conflict of interest,” the complaint states.
Just as the original complaint did, the amended lawsuit also includes one paragraph citing a 2003 USA Today article about Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who won Super Bowl 50 two days before the six women initially sued his alma mater.
According to the complaint, a female associate trainer allegedly reported that Manning “sat on her face” while she was assessing an injury. The lawsuit claims the incident was settled in 1997 for an undisclosed amount of money. The cited USA Today article says Manning described it as a “mooning incident.”
University attorney Bill Ramsey said in a statement released Feb. 9 that UT “acted lawfully and in good faith, and we expect a court to agree.”
“Like the many other college campuses facing the challenges of sexual assault, the University of Tennessee – Knoxville has devoted significant time and energy to provide a safe environment for our students, to educate and raise awareness about sexual assault, and to encourage students to come forward and report sexual assault,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey added, “Any assertion that we do not take sexual assault seriously enough is simply not true.”
Ramsey put out another statement Wednesday in response to the new allegations, saying UT “will vigorously defend all claims in the amended complaint.”
“The university has reviewed the amended complaint filed today by the plaintiffs and we continue to stand by our actions,” he said. “The facts, as opposed to allegations in a complaint, will demonstrate that the university acted properly in the matters at issue.”
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