The current century is only 24 years old, so it is not a reach to call the recent Sharon Lewis Vs. LSU sexual harassment trial the Trial of the Century, as far as LSU is concerned.
The ultimate “She Said, He Denied and Everybody Lied” trial was at times very boring and junior high silly at the Russell B. Long federal courthouse downtown for seven days from Dec. 11 through Dec. 20. At the same time, it focused on the very serious subject of sexual misconduct toward women and aired dirty laundry everywhere.
Here are the top 12 quotes from the actual trial that LSU won over Lewis on Dec. 20:
1 – “She’s four or five levels below me. That’s what we do. That’s protocol.”
… LSU athletic director Scott Woodward when asked why he never responded to any of Sharon Lewis’ calls or a request for a meeting.
COMMENT: Wow. I didn’t know LSU’s athletic department had that many levels of rank. The building itself only has six stories. Was Woodward counting the insects, too?
2 – “I’m there to be the ultimate judge in the end.”
… Woodward again.
COMMENT: Maybe in your building, Scott, but not at a federal courthouse when you are on the witness stand with a real judge, Susie Morgan, sitting above you – literally and figuratively. Never was that more true than when Morgan tossed a juror whom Woodward had crazily just shot a thumbs up to in front of everyone as the trial took a break. I’m surprised they didn’t high five one another and begin chanting, “LSU … LSU … LSU.” And Morgan is an LSU law school graduate.
3 – “Judge, this is getting to be personal and argumentative. I’m a citizen.”
… Woodward again after he already had made it “personal and argumentative.”
COMMENT: This may have been Woodward’s most accurate testimony over two days. Correct, Scott, you are only a citizen and a witness. So, speak when you are spoken to. You are not one of the lawyers trying to object. And you are not at an LSU tailgate, where more than one of the jurors and the extracted juror apparently thought they were at times. Which is more reason why this trial obviously should have had a change of venue in the first place to Ruston.
4. “Just answer the questions. Don’t keep going on and on.”
… Judge Morgan to Woodward, whose glowing filibuster on accused assistant football coach Frank Wilson would have made Russell Long’s father Huey proud.
5. “It was very flawed. It was an extensive, thick report with dozens of opinions by a lot of people.”
… Woodward again on the Husch Blackwell report of 2021 on LSU’s poor handling of Title IX issues and failure to report sexual misconduct by football players against LSU coeds.
COMMENT: Isn’t an “extensive, thick report with dozens of opinions by a lot of people” exactly what an independent report by an outside law firm on an athletic department and football program with obvious systemic problems should be exactly? What did Woodward (the judge in his mind) want? For Husch Blackwell only to interview him or who he told it to interview?
6. “Over the past three years we have built a robust and nationally recognized Title IX office with more than 12 experts who are committed to educating and protecting our entire LSU community while moving swiftly and holding any offenders fully accountable. This will continue to be a priority for us.”
… Statement referring to and praising the Husch Blackwell report from LSU Communications/University Relations on Dec. 20 after LSU won the verdict.
COMMENT: The Husch Blackwell report may have been rushed and partly flawed, but it did its job. The report’s impact has at least tried to make LSU a better place for women through more adherence to Title IX issues.
7. “I wouldn’t label anyone with LSU football as a protector.”
… former LSU football recruiting student worker Calise Richardson (from 2014-17), who testified about sexual misconduct against her from LSU football players.
8. “I would describe it as a laugh. She didn’t take it seriously and didn’t report it.”
… Richardson again when asked what Sharon Lewis’ reaction was to Richardson reporting sexual misconduct of a football player toward her.
COMMENT: This is a clear contradiction in Lewis’ case. While she accused others at LSU of not reporting her complaints to the right people, she previously had done the same thing.
9. “My thought is this. I believe we are at this point because I refused to testify against Les Miles when Sharon Lewis asked me to. While I was at McNeese, I had cordial, friendly conversations with Sharon. Until that request that I turned down, everything changed. All the allegations against me she made are not true – egregious and not true.”
… LSU assistant football coach Frank Wilson.
COMMENT: Clearly goes to motive of Sharon Lewis.
10. “Sharon was OK with most people. Sharon had problems when people said no to her, especially white people. Every white person who disagreed with there was a racist. A lot of times people throw out the race card when things go badly. I know what real racism is. Sharon was not a victim of that.”
… LSU executive athletic director Verge Ausberry.
COMMENT: This testimony by a black man against a black woman clearly caught the attention of the jury, which by the was all white – five men and three women. The juror previously dismissed was also white.
11. “The jury is what the jury is. I’m an officer of the court. It is what it is.”
… Sharon Lewis lead attorney Larry English when asked by a reporter if he was surprised that the jury was all white. Six black jurors did not make the cut.
12. “Anybody who loves this state, anybody who loves LSU should be very troubled by the evidence that was put on in this federal trial.”
… Lewis lead attorney English again.
COMMENT: The verdict may be appealed. And despite the loss, English has gathered additional evidence for a possible additional trial between Lewis and LSU in the future.
“We think there was a lot of compelling evidence in this case that makes us feel very positive about our case in state court,” English said. Or, it could be over.