Questions on Orgeron’s involvement in LSU scandal emerge during Senate committee hearing

Persistent questions went unanswered today at a legislative hearing about why three then-members of the LSU Board of Supervisors decided in 2013 not to notify the full board or take action against then-head football coach Les Miles after learning of his alleged sexual harassment of female students.

At a meeting of the Louisiana Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, grilled current board leaders and LSU’s executive counsel about the kind of leadership structure that exists at a university, when three former board members—Hank Danos, Stanley Jacobs and Bobby Yarborough, all named in the Husch Blackwell report released earlier this month—determined on the advice of local law firm Taylor Porter and then-LSU President William Jenkins, not to disclose the information to the board or to fire Miles.

“How did three board members make a decision on an issue this important?” Jackson asked.

Taylor Porter determined in 2013 that Miles had made unwanted advances to a female student worker in the athletic department, including kissing her, and inviting her to travel out of town with him.

Current LSU board chair Robert Dampf, who was not on the board in 2013, agreed that the process was problematic and suggested his predecessors were at fault.

“These kinds of decisions should not be made by three members in secret,” Dampf said. “That is an unacceptable form of university governance.”

He later added, “We are the board that is making this public. We’re trying to fix the problem. We believe in transparency.”

Danos, Jacobs and Yarborough, all former board members appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, did not attend today’s hearing, but Jacobs sent a statement, read by committee chair Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, explaining that the three members kept secret the report on Miles because “a determination was made by either Dr. Jenkins or Taylor Porter that only three of us would be in the know regarding the investigation,” at least in part, because the student victim insisted on anonymity.

While no new evidence related to the Les Miles scandal surfaced during the hearing, lawmakers did learn about a new sexual harassment complaint filed in 2017 against Derrius Guice, the team’s then-star running back, by a 70-year-old worker at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Gloria Scott, now 74, told the committee she was working a high school football game at the Superdome when Guice and several other young men approached and repeatedly sexually harassed her.

Guice has also been accused of rape and of taking unwanted nude pictures of a female student.

Scott testified that she reported the incident to LSU—a fact that is corroborated in the Husch Blackwell report—and also claims current head coach Ed Orgeron called and tried to apologize on behalf of Guice.

Orgeron has denied in the Husch Blackwell report having direct communication with Scott, as have LSU officials.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, said she wanted to hear directly from the head coach.

“We’re going to be here awhile,” she said.

As of 3 p.m., the hearing was still underway, nearly four hours after convening.

Lawmakers on the all-female committee said they were angry and will continue to call such hearings until they get to the bottom of what has been going on at LSU.

“This is crazy. This is crazy,” said Sen. C. Denise Marcell, D-Baton Rouge. “This is insane.”