Rebuffed by LSU officials, Louisiana lawmakers look toward solutions

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, LA.  Thursday, April 8, 2021.

Women state lawmakers who have been holding hearings into Louisiana State University’s years-long, systemic mishandling of sexual misconduct and violence complaints came to a sobering conclusion during their third such hearing Thursday.

LSU officials are done talking.

As a result, the legislators shifted their focus from accountability for officials who contributed to the scandal to at least 12 newly introduced bills that would address problems at the heart of it.

“We’re limited, but we feel the burden,” said Sen. Beth Mizell, vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, the group that has been hosting the hearings. “We don’t want to just slap you on the hand — we want this done. And I think maybe the greatest help we can give you is by watchful oversight and engagement.”

President Pro Tempore Beth Mizell  during the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, LA.  Thursday, April 8, 2021.

None of the 10 current and former LSU leaders from whom committee members had demanded testimony – including several who played key roles in the scandal — showed up on Thursday. That includes football coach Ed Orgeron, athletic director Scott Woodward, executive deputy athletic director Verge Ausberry, senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar and members of the Board of Supervisors. 

Ausberry and Segar, who were found to have failed to report sexual misconduct and dating violence allegations against athletes to the Title IX office, are the only employees LSU has disciplined in light of the report last month by law firm Husch Blackwell, which detailed widespread failures to adequately respond to Title IX complaints. Both employees received brief unpaid suspensions and have since returned to work. 

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