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LSU football coach Ed Orgeron issued a statement Thursday night denying that he’d made light of a sexual assault allegation against Derrius Guice.
The statement comes one day after a USA TODAY investigation found that LSU apparently failed to investigate allegations by two then-students that Guice raped them in 2016, when he was a rising star freshman.
“The sexual assault allegations made against Derrius Guice should be taken very seriously and the alleged victims must be heard and supported,” Orgeron’s statement said. “I will always stand up for what is right and without question, I have complied — and I will continue to comply — with all university Title IX protocols and procedures.”
According to the women and six friends and family members interviewed by USA TODAY, school officials at the time didn’t believe the women and provided questionable explanations as to why their alleged assaults wouldn’t be investigated. The women said no one from the university interviewed them or potential witnesses about the allegations.
Read the full investigation: Two women say ex-Washington RB Derrius Guice raped them at LSU when he was a freshman
Orgeron and other LSU officials did not respond to numerous detailed questions from USA TODAY on Tuesday, before the article was published. Guice, through his attorney, has denied the women’s allegations.
Guice was playing in the NFL for the Washington Football Team until Aug. 7 when he was arrested on unrelated domestic violence charges. The team cut ties with him hours later.
Orgeron’s statement comes the same day that LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan told WAFB, a local TV station, that the university has been investigating the matter “since we heard the story,” which was published online Wednesday morning.
It’s not clear who is conducting LSU’s investigation and what specifically is being investigated. Three LSU spokesmen did not answer questions from USA TODAY on Thursday, instead sending a link to a video of Galligan’s interview with WAFB.
WAFB reported that Galligan said LSU is investigating both the allegations against Guice and “how the university initially handled the situation.”
“I can’t say too much about the details, but I can say, given my time at LSU, that I would be surprised if we did not follow our procedures and our policies,” Galligan told WAFB. “Of course, I would also be concerned if we did not follow our procedures and our policies.”
USA TODAY’s investigation found that LSU does not appear to have investigated either woman’s complaint, despite federal Title IX policies in place at the time. Universities were required to “promptly investigate” sexual assault allegations to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
In addition, LSU’s own Title IX policy said, “Any supervisor, or other responsible party who witnesses or receives a report or complaint, shall notify the Campus Title IX Coordinator.” The Title IX coordinator is then required to conduct an initial review to determine if a full investigation should be conducted.
‘I lost all respect for him’
Orgeron was a defensive assistant under then-head coach Les Miles when the alleged assaults occurred. He was named interim head coach after Miles was fired a month into the 2016 season, and announced as head coach on Nov. 26, 2016.
One of the women said Guice raped her in early 2016 after she had passed out in her bedroom during a party he’d shown up to uninvited. The other woman said Guice raped her in late June 2016 when she allowed him into her house after a night of drinking at a bar, where they’d met for the first time.
The first woman was dating an LSU football recruit at the time of the alleged assault and told her then-boyfriend about the incident afterward. The recruit told USA TODAY that in the spring of 2017, Orgeron brought up subject of Guice and his then-girlfriend and told him, “Everybody’s girlfriend sleeps with other people.’”
The former player said he doesn’t know how Orgeron knew what happened, but he believes the coach knew it was not consensual.
“I lost all respect for him,” the player said of Orgeron.
Orgeron disputed having said this. He said he would not reveal full details of the conversation, but that the athlete’s recollection is inaccurate. Rather, Orgeron said the player came to his office discussing a transfer and that they “discussed the player’s relationship challenges with his girlfriend.”
“I told him what I would tell my own sons: ‘We all experience heartbreak growing up. Do not throw away a promising academic and football career at LSU because of a personal obstacle,’” Orgeron said.
“Any insinuation that I had knowledge of his girlfriend and Derrius Guice is completely false.”
When contacted by USA TODAY after Orgeron issued his statement, the former LSU player said, "Everyone knows the truth."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LSU coach Orgeron on Derrius Guice rape claims: Victims must be heard