Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Suit: Vols attacked teammate

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A lawsuit filed by a group of women accusing the University of Tennessee of violating Title IX regulations and creating a "hostile sexual environment" also claims that a former Vols player was "jumped" by teammates who "had a hit on him" after he helped an alleged rape victim.

A Tennessee student who said she was raped by linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams at a party in November 2014 is one of six plaintiffs in the Title IX suit.

According to the lawsuit, receiver Drae Bowles took the plaintiff to the hospital and supported her reporting the incident. The next day, another plaintiff saw Bowles get attacked by several players, and Bowles was attacked again on another day.

In an interview cited in the lawsuit, former defensive back Geraldo Orta said the team had ''a hit'' out on Bowles, because he betrayed the team.

Bowles, who has since transferred to Chattanooga, denied being assaulted. He also said the alleged victim did not say she had been raped when he gave her a ride home from the party.

The federal suit filed Tuesday in Nashville states that Tennessee's policies made students more vulnerable to sexual assault and says that the school had a "clearly unreasonable response" after incidents that caused the women making complaints to endure additional harassment. The suit also states the university interfered with the disciplinary process to favor male athletes.

Title IX is a federal statute that bans discrimination at schools that receive federal funding.

Several sexual assault complaints have been made against Tennessee student-athletes over the past four years. Johnson and Williams, who have been dismissed from the team, were indicted on aggravated rape charges in February 2015 and have trial dates this summer.

Tennessee legal counsel Bill Ramsey said in a statement: "Any assertion that we do not take sexual assault seriously enough is simply not true. To claim that we have allowed a culture to exist contrary to our institutional commitment to providing a safe environment for our students or that we do not support those who report sexual assault is just false."

OLE MISS VIOLATIONS: Mississippi's football program was cited by the NCAA in 13 of the 28 rules violations levied against the school in the Notice of Allegations the university recently received, according to reports. Nine of the football violations occurred during current coach Hugh Freeze's tenure. The violations are a mix of Level I — which the NCAA considers most serious — and Level II and III. Many have been self-reported by the school. The school's women's basketball and track and field programs are also involved in the investigation. Ole Miss, under investigation since 2012, has 90 days to respond to the Notice of Allegations. School officials and legal counsel have not released the notice because they believe the documents should remain confidential while the investigation continues.

HADEN FEELS FAINT: Outgoing USC athletic director Pat Haden became faint as he walked through campus Wednesday. Haden, 63, who has a pacemaker, was attended to by paramedics, taken to a hospital and released the same day. There was no word on his condition. Sports information director Tim Tessalone said the episode was similar to one that Haden had in October, when he briefly went to the hospital.

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