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Report: Several Gophers players accused of sexual assault, harassment

Several Minnesota players were accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation during the past school year, according to a Star Tribune report in Minneapolis.

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Minnesota players dance on the sideline after scoring a touchdown against the Purdue Oct. 10. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Several Minnesota players were accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation during the past school year, according to a Star Tribune report in Minneapolis.

The university told the newspaper that no police reports were filed against any of the athletes, but there were concerns in the athletic department about player conduct in light of the accusations.

The Star Tribune reported the findings based on emails that it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Former athletic director Norwood Teague resigned during the summer after sexual harassment allegations were made against him by university officials.

Kimberly Hewitt, the school's director of equal opportunity and affirmative, said she emailed Teague in July recommending that the team seek behavior counseling.

Hewitt declined to tell the Star-Tribune how many players or alleged victims might be involved, citing student privacy issues, but said there are still concerns about the football team.

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Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Thursday that he was aware of one report of questionable behavior by a player.

"I've taken care of the report that we received on a young man," Kill said. "We turned it into the administration and it was handled by the administration.

"If we have anything that I'm aware of that has to do with the ladies or anything of that nature, I go through (senior associate athletic director) Dan O'Brien, (interim athletic director) Beth Goetz and call the police," he said.

The university is conducting an internal investigation of the athletic department after Teague's harassment case. If any athletes are found to have violated university policies, they will face discipline.

"Title IX requires the school to take reasonable steps to prevent future sexual (violence) and harassment after receiving a complaint, even when the complaining student chooses not to pursue an investigation," Hewitt said in an e-mail to the Star-Tribune.

Goetz issued a statement saying the athletic department initiated discussions on whether reports of sexual assault and harassment constituted a broader pattern.

"All of these reports were fully investigated to the extent that they could be and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) did not substantiate any sexual assault allegations," she said. "The EOAA Office substantiated one allegation of sexual harassment.

"A meeting was held between the athletics department and EOAA to determine whether additional educational efforts were needed and these discussions are ongoing. EOAA has independent authority to raise concerns and this is an example of that proactive system.

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"One report of sexual assault or harassment is one too many and we took prompt, responsive action to investigate when notified of these reports. Coach Kill has a strong track record of dealing with student-athlete issues as soon as they arise.

"The athletics department holds mandatory educational training for all student-athletes on sexual assault each year. We take any allegations of sexual assault or harassment seriously and investigate all reports. However, under the law and OCR guidelines, we are compelled to protect the identities of any reporting students or others involved in investigations"

Related Topics: CRIMEFOOTBALL
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