Why a former student accusing Derrius Guice of misconduct sued LSU over police records

Samantha Brennan says Guice took a nude picture of her without her consent and shared it around

Tiger Stadium
LSU's Tiger Stadium (Photo by Julie O'Donoghue / Louisiana Illuminator)

Samantha Brennan is the former LSU student who said college football star Derrius Guice took a nude photo of her without her permission while they were both at the school in 2016.

Guice, who grew up in Baton Rouge, was let go from the Washington Football Team in 2020 after being charged with multiple counts of domestic violence. Two women have also anonymously told USA TODAY that Guice raped them while he attended LSU. Guice has denied all these allegations and was never arrested — let alone charged with a crime — while playing football at LSU. 

Brennan went public with her accusations against Guice in a USA TODAY article in November. USA TODAY has reported extensively on how LSU mishandled sexual assault cases on campus, particularly those concerning athletes and fraternity members.

Brennan was an unlikely LSU student from the start. Five years ago, she transferred to LSU from the University of Minnesota after working an internship in Baton Rouge over the summer. She thought her time in Baton Rouge was “meant to be” because her parents named her after the Samantha Garth Brooks is trying to reach in his song “Callin Baton Rouge.” At the time, she was interested in a career as a sports agent, but had no family or friends in Louisiana.

Her interest in sports led Brennan to a part-time job in the recruiting office in LSU’s athletic department, and she met Guice at a college bar through a coworker. The night she met Guice, Brennan drank a lot and doesn’t remember much of what happened. But she woke up the next day to a text message from Guice, saying he had forgotten his wallet at her apartment the previous night. Brennan didn’t remember Guice coming to her apartment — they lived in the same complex — until she got the text message. She can’t say whether she gave him permission to enter.

Samantha Brennan
Samantha Brennan (Photo provided by Samantha Brennan)

A few days later though, the same coworker that introduced Brennan to Guice told Brennan that a naked photo of her was circulating among football players. Brennan talked to senior athletic officials about the photo and eventually made a report to the LSU police department about the incident. It’s a crime to take and distribute a naked photo of a person without consent, but Brennan didn’t want to press charges against Guice.

Fast forward to four years later, Brennan decided to go public about her experience with Guice after reading that he has been accused of raping two other LSU students around the same time he circulated the nude photo of her. LSU refused to release a full police report Brennan made about Guice circulating the nude photo to her or USA TODAY. So Brennan and the newspaper sued LSU — and won.

The following is a Q&A with Brennan about how she felt at LSU after her incident with Guice and what she thinks the university can do to protect women on campus.  

Can you tell me why you decided to go ahead and sue LSU? Not everyone takes that step.

It was kind of brought to me by USA TODAY. They were the ones who were starting that suit and asked me to join — to bring a stronger case.

I wanted it to be shown that I made this statement — when it happened — to the most official authority that I thought. I wanted this out there to show I wasn’t making this up and to bring credibility to myself and all of the other victims.

I just wanted to prove a point to LSU as well: that they can’t keep giving victims all these hurdles to jump through. The harder they push, the harder I’m going to push back. I’m super competitive, and I’m going to win.

Guice was — at the time he took your naked photo — a very popular figure at LSU and in Louisiana. How did it feel to have gone through the incident [with Guice] and then to have a bunch of people on campus really excited about him? Was that ever difficult? 

Yes. So that’s actually why I made the decision to drop out of LSU and leave Louisiana altogether.

At first, when it initially happened, it was still Leonard Fournette’s show. But as soon as Leonard left for the (NFL) draft and it became the Derrius Guice show, I just couldn’t stand hearing a hundred thousand screaming fans cheering on this awful person.

I was not from there. I didn’t have anything holding me there. So in my 19-or-20 year-old head, I had two options. Either make a stink and fight this and have to leave because I’ll be Louisiana’s public enemy number one or just be quiet and leave and put it behind me. And that’s what I chose — until I found out I wasn’t his only victim. And that’s when I realized I can’t keep silent any longer.

Did you know that he had been accused of rape by two other women before you read the USA TODAY story in August? 

No. The day that USA TODAY story dropped about Derrius’ other rape victims, that is the first I heard of anything.

I don’t know if I would have even seen the USA TODAY article if it wasn’t sent to me from some former LSU acquaintances, but as soon as I saw that, it hit me that I had to do something.

You had wanted to be a sports agent. Did you decide not to pursue a career in the sports industry because of what happened with Guice?

It was part of it, for sure.

This isn’t right, but this is what I thought in my head: A bad reputation can really make or break a career.

My first reputation was this incident, and I knew that reputation was everything. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know in that business. And everyone knows me as the girl who is making a commotion about a picture.

I just didn’t see a future, but I also just didn’t want to completely sweep it under the rug and sit in that environment.

You were afraid people were going to associate you with making a fuss — and that was going to be a black mark on your reputation?

Yeah.

I left the [LSU] recruiting office pretty shortly after the incident. I just didn’t want to be walking down the hall and feeling like people were like “Oh that’s that girl in the picture.”

Like who’s seen me naked in this office? So I didn’t stick around much longer.

Why do you think it took so long for some of the incidents to come to the surface? 

I think LSU just did a damn good job at trying to cover it up — and just keeping every “hush hush” so nobody knew about any of the others. If anyone knew at the time that there were others, we might have spoken up.

I am the third victim. Had I known he had done this two times prior, I definitely would have considered my options. I thought I was the only one — and I think that’s what LSU wanted me to think.

Why do you think it’s hard for people at LSU to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against an athlete?

Some victims don’t want to come forward because they can’t prove what they’re saying unfortunately. It’s “he said, she said” — and that’s how people end up getting dragged in the media. And it is scary.

That’s why I feel comfortable coming out because what I’m claiming, it’s not “he said, she said”. A picture was taken. You can prove it. It’s there. Case closed.

I’m not claiming rape because I don’t know what happened [between Guice and me]. I can’t remember — can’t prove it. And I don’t want to take credibility away from my statement.

I think the other part is that a lot of these women are still there. They’re still students. They’re local. They’ve grown up loving LSU. I didn’t.

I’m from Minnesota. I didn’t know anyone there really. It was easy for me to leave, and it’s easy for me to talk about things now because I’m not in Louisiana anymore.

I mean, I went to the protest at LSU that was put on for the victims, and just being back in that culture — walking through LSU’s campus — I was like, oh gosh, are people recognizing me? Do they know who I am? It is weird and a little bit scary.

I met a girl who came up to me at the [anti-sexual assault] protest ,and she has come out with her [sexual assault] story but has not used her her name. She said her parents don’t want her to come out with her name because they fear for her physical safety.

It sounds like you know of other victims that haven’t come forward?

Correct. There have been slowly more and more coming out. I know there are some more that want to come out. They’re just waiting for the right time. They are coming out slowly but surely.

Are we talking about dozens of other victims?

I would say maybe a dozen so far that have reached out to me. Somehow we keep finding more, and we add them into this girl group message. For the most part, the majority of the women have been assaulted by a fraternity member or an athlete.

After your incident with Guice, was it hard to be on campus? Did you stop attending football games?

LSU football is what the entire school revolves around. That’s just my opinion. That’s kind of how I felt. I mean, you couldn’t avoid hearing the news and hearing the headlines — and having all these people cheering on this awful person.

I just felt like I really couldn’t avoid it. And ultimately I just couldn’t be in that environment where I would maybe see him around or see people who knew about it. I just had to cut out that whole part of my life — just forget about it and move on.

The hardest part was I had no idea who had seen [the nude photo] and how many people [had seen it]. 

For some reason, people have published that it was a semi-nude photo, but I was nude. I do know that. I never said it was partially nude.

What do you think LSU’s athletic department can do to make sure these things don’t continue to occur?

I think LSU will have to make an example out of this case and I think the biggest way to make an example is for people to lose their jobs. If they are afraid for their jobs, they are not going to keep making the same mistakes that the people before them make.

I definitely think some people will have to go.