LSU Coach Ed Orgeron declined to discipline Guice for alleged sex harassment, woman says

LSU, Superdome officials ignored complaints about Guice, woman claims

By: - March 26, 2021 10:35 pm
Ed Orgeron

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 28: Head coach Ed Orgeron of the LSU Tigers looks on during warm ups before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Gloria Scott, now 74, says LSU football Coach Ed Orgeron and several LSU athletics officials ignored her requests to discipline former star running back Derrius Guice three years ago after he had allegedly sexually harassed her while she was working at the Superdome.

“I have never felt so embarrassed,” Scott told women lawmakers about Guice’s alleged harassment Friday. “I still, after all this time, it bothers me. It upsets me to talk about it.” 

In December 2017, Scott said she was working at the Superdome during a high school football event when Guice and other young men approached her. She said she recognized Guice right away. He was a star on LSU’s football team at the time.

Scott said Guice approached her with a group of young men and said: “I want your body. I want you to f—- me.”

He then grabbed his genitals, Scott told the women lawmakers. She said Guice frightened her at the time.

“In all my life, I’ve never had a man or child talk to me so disrespectful like he did,” Scott, a great-grandmother, told the lawmakers with her voice cracking.

She eventually broke down and started crying during her testimony. Many women lawmakers also had to wipe away tears as she spoke.

In late 2017, Scott said she talked to several LSU officials over the phone about Guice’s alleged harassment of her, including Orgeron.

Scott said Orgeron offered to have Guice apologize to her for his behavior, but Scott wasn’t interested in an apology. Scott — who as a Superdome worker is savvy about football — asked for Guice to be kept out of the 2018 Citrus Bowl held on New Year’s Day that year.

“I would not get on the phone with him. I refused to talk to him,” Scott said of Guice.

LSU athletics officials refused to hold Guice out of the game, Scott said. In a phone call with Orgeron, Scott said the coach tried to explain away Guice’s behavior by blaming it on his difficult childhood and upbringing. Orgeron only talked to her once. 

“He told me he would get back to me and never called back,” she said. 

Scott’s sexual harassment allegations were included in the sprawling report about LSU’s mishandling of domestic violence and sexual misconduct against women published earlier this month, though she’s not sure how her story found its way into the document.

Scott wasn’t identified by name in the report and she said she was never contacted by LSU or interviewed for the investigation, which was put together by outside attorneys at the Husch Blackwell law firm. Several LSU officials, including the university’s top attorney, said they were unaware of Scott’s identity until Friday morning.

LSU is wrestling with the growing scandal after a series of investigative reports by USA TODAY last year about campus misconduct. Much of the focus of the national newspaper has been on the failings in the Athletics Department, particularly related to the football team. LSU has held up the Husch Blackwell report as an example of turning a corner on these issues — and a new era of transparency.

But Scott’s testimony raised questions about how forthcoming Orgeron had been with the Husch Blackwell attorneys. In the investigative report, Orgeron denied talking to Scott, saying the coach was only familiar with her allegations because he had heard about them from another official in the athletics department. 

In a statement following the hearing, LSU Athletics Director Scott Woodward backed up Orgeron, saying the coach “never had any direct communications with the complainant.”

“He has and will continue to follow university protocol regarding reporting,” said Woodward in a written statement after refusing to answer questions from reporters following the hearing. 

Yet women lawmakers questioned whether Orgeron, a Louisiana native, lied to the Husch Blackwell about talking with Scott.

“And if he lied?” asked state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, about the potential consequences for Orgeron.

“If he lied, we’ll deal with Coach O,” replied Winston DeCuir, LSU’s general counsel and lead attorney. 

Leaving the matter up to LSU wasn’t enough for some legislators. Several said they wanted Orgeron to come speak with women lawmakers in person. The women are already planning to have another hearing focused on LSU’s sexual misconduct and domestic violence issues. 

Scott didn’t just press Orgeron on Guice’s behavior. She said she talked to several LSU officials in 2017 and 2018 who ignored her concerns. That includes two people who have been at the center of several LSU botched cases involving domestic violence and rape allegations in the athletics department. 

Scott said she talked to athletics administrators Verge Ausberry and Miriam Segar about Guice. Both athletics officials were recently suspended because they mishandled other allegations.

Ausberry did not tell anyone when former LSU football player Drake Davis admitted in a text message to hitting a woman Davis was dating. Ausberry ignored a federal law by not telling law enforcement and campus authorities about the potential abuse. Davis’ violence against Jade Lewis, a former LSU tennis player, escalated after his confession to Ausberry. Davis was eventually arrested and convicted of domestic violence in relation to his treatment of Lewis.

Segar’s biggest misstep concerned another set of misconduct allegations against Guice. She left his name off a report of an alleged rape from a member of the LSU swim and dive team when Segar handed it to campus authorites. That made it more difficult to track cumulative misconduct allegations against Guice — including those made by Scott in 2017. 

Scott’s allegations and the rape allegations from the swim and dive team member were hardly the only time that athletics officials had heard about sexual misconduct involving Guice.

Former LSU tennis player Abby Owens said Guice raped her in 2016. Former athletics department student worker Samantha Brennan said Guice took a naked photograph of her without her permission that same year. Guice has denied those allegations, but the women brought most of them directly to athletics officials in those months, years before Scott alleged she was sexually harassed by Guice. Guice was never arrested in connection with any allegation in Louisiana.

Scott said she didn’t just approach LSU athletics officials with her concerns. She also contacted the campus Title IX office, which kept a report with her allegations on file. DeCuir, LSU’s attorney, told the women lawmakers that not much could be done about Scott’s allegations because she wasn’t a student.

When she got no response from LSU, Scott said she tried to file a report with the New Orleans Police Department, who refused to help her. She said she thought about going to the police department’s internal affairs unit, but was concerned about retaliation against her and her family if she complained about unhelpful officers.

She also wasn’t able to find an attorney who would take on her case and, when she reached out to the media, she got no response. She said she contacted WWL-TV, The Times-Picayune and the New Orleans Advocate about her story. 

Scott also said she suffered repercussions at her job at the Superdome. She was temporarily reassigned from her post, which she enjoyed because she got to interact a lot with Saints players and their families. She asked Superdome officials for a copy of a video feed that would show Guice harassing her, but they refused to give it to her unless she hired an attorney, she said.

“Finally, somebody is listening to me,” she told women lawmakers Friday.

“We’re going to do more than listen,” replied Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe.

LSU is devoting more resources to sexual misconduct investigations and cases. The school’s Board of Supervisors is also reorganizing to focus more on such issues, but so far the university has resisted all calls to fire people, in particular,  Ausberry and Segar.

Women lawmakers are growing less patient by the day though — and they have some control over LSU’s annual budget, construction campaigns and the state laws that regulate the school.

“I am done with this coverup. It is crazy. It is insane and we need to fix it,” said Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge. “If there are no consequences, why would anyone else come forward?”

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.