Coach Ed Orgeron's business and Tiger Athletic Foundation added as defendants in Title IX suit vs. LSU

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE — LSU football coach Ed Orgeron's involvement in the Title IX lawsuit against LSU's handling of rape and domestic abuse has intensified, according to an amended class action complaint related to the original Title IX lawsuit against LSU filed in April.

The latest complaint filed in Louisiana's Middle District Court on Friday lists the corporation named O The Rosy Finch Boyz LLC and the Tiger Athletic Foundation – LSU's fundraising arm for athletics – as defendants. It also lists three additional women coming forward to criticize LSU's handling of their complaints of rape and sexual harassment over the past several years.

Seven current and former female LSU students came forward in the original Title IX lawsuit filing in April.

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Orgeron, who is commonly called "O," is listed in the complaint as an officer of "The Rosy Finch Boyz," a "Louisiana limited liability company" owned by Orgeron and his former wife Kelly Orgeron "with its principal place of business in Mandeville" that the amended complaint says violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act.

"All defendants, including TAF and the O Rosy Finch Boyz are a group of persons associated together in fact for the common purpose of carrying out an ongoing criminal enterprise," the amendment says. "Defendants committed multiple related acts of wire and mail fraud, including but not limited to solicitations of donations from national and international sources through TAF, who then utilized the funds to pay LSU employees and implement a sexual misconduct reporting scheme designed to keep complaints within the athletic department and away from LSU's Title IX office."

Rick Perry, TAF's former director who had worked with the entity since 1987, recently retired and was replaced by Matt Borman, who worked at Georgia since 2017.

Among the other defendants listed in the amended complaint are associate athletics director Verge Ausberry and associate athletics director Miriam Segar, who were previously suspended after an investigation by the Husch Blackwell firm, as well as tennis coaches Julia and Michael Sell. 

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LSU general counsel Winston G. DeCuir Jr. did not respond to requests for comment on Monday, nor did TAF attorney Judy Barrasso.

"By subsidizing the salaries of LSU employees, including the Orgeron defendants, TAF exerts control over LSU athletics and protects the male student-athletes who generate large sums of money for TAF and LSU," the complaint says. "The nature of the enterprise's goal is exemplified in the terms of Orgeron's contract, which funnels millions of dollars through the private company of 'O Rosy Finch Boyz.'"

Orgeron is in the second year of a six-year contract that pays him $7 million a year, excluding incentives reached with on-field accomplishments, after winning the national championship in the 2019-20 season. Multiple members of that team played despite recent sexual allegations against them.

"That contract provides for incentive-based compensation wherein the Orgeron defendants would receive greater compensation for more victories, for more post-season games, and for any awards that Orgeron received as coach," the amendment says. "To maximize this incentive-based compensation, it was imperative to protect the male athletes that helped achieve these victories, post-season games, and ultimate coaching recognition, and to downplay any reports of sexual misconduct with might jeopardize the athlete's ability to play for LSU."

The complaint says Orgeron and others at LSU "conspired to stymie LSU's entire Title IX policy" in order to protect "certain athletes from viable Title IX claims."

Three more women come forward

The three female former LSU students joining others previously coming forward with accusations of systemic LSU coverups of sexual allegations are Ashlyn Robertson, who enrolled in 2015, Corinn Hovis, who enrolled in 2019, and Sarah Beth Kitch, who enrolled in graduate school in 2009.

Robertson says former LSU running back Derrius Guice raped her in 2016 at her apartment after a party. The amendment to the lawsuit states that Orgeron knew about Robertson's allegation and failed to report it to LSU's Title IX office or any other office or entity.

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"I'm doing this to protect our daughters and future women of LSU," Robertson said in a statement released Monday by attorney Elizabeth Abdnour's law firm in Lansing, Michigan, that is representing the three women.

"There has to be change within the University and its policies," Robertson said. "If I would have known other women had been assaulted by the same person that I was, I wouldn't have felt so alone, and I would have had the courage to come forward back in 2016."

Guice was not publicly disciplined or suspended for any of his behavior while at LSU and was never arrested on any allegations related to behavior he is accused of at LSU. He was released from the Washington NFL football team last year after domestic violence charges against him in Virginia. Those were dropped last week after Guice reached a settlement before trial with the victim.

"Holding the responsible individuals and institutions accountable for their failures is the first step toward creating a safer LSU for everyone," Abdnour said.

Hovis says a former LSU football player raped her on Aug. 6, 2020, and she has been unhappy with LSU's investigation of the incident and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kitch's accusations involve a political science adviser, and she says LSU officials told her that "she would have faced consequences" after reporting the harassment.

All three women are asking for statutory and punitive damages of $5 million or more, according to their lawyers, along with a permanent injunction that will require compliance with Title IX.

"With the filing of this amended complaint, we applaud and stand with the additional women who have bravely come forward to tell their personal and difficult stories and hold LSU accountable for its years of putting money over the well being of students," said New Orleans attorney Katie Laskey, who is also representing the plaintiffs.