Monday, Dec 11 – Day One of Sharon Lewis vs LSU Federal Trial: All white jury selected, sparks fly as first witness testifies current Associate Head Coach Frank Wilson forcibly kissed her on her lips against her will

Sharon Lewis

It’s early in the first quarter still, but LSU’s defense in the Middle District courtroom in Baton Rouge during the first day of the federal trial pitting former Associate Athletic Director Sharon Lewis against LSU in her $50 million sexual harassment, race-based and gender-based retaliation lawsuit against the university very much resembled this season’s LSU football defense: constantly out of position and missing tackles left and right.

Sparks flew early and often in day one of the federal trial as both sides went through the process of selecting and seating a nine-person all-white jury from a 60-person pool of jurors composed of only six blacks, then each side presented opening statements and heard testimony from two witnesses under questioning from attorneys.

The trial, which is being presided over by Judge Susie Morgan of the Eastern District in New Orleans because every judge in the Middle District recused themselves because of potential or perceived conflicts of interest when Lewis filed the case in April of 2021, resumes on Tuesday morning and is expected to last through December 22.

Both witnesses that appeared on the stand on Monday – Nikole Jessie, a former intern who worked under Lewis’ supervision in the LSU football recruiting department from August of 2012 to June of 2014, and Jennifer Stewart, a former Title IX Coordinator at LSU – were called by Lewis’ attorneys.

Jessie, who now works as the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at Rice University in Houston, was the first witness.

Jessie was questioned by Lewis’ attorney and then cross examined by an attorney from Phelps Dunbar, the law firm representing LSU in the case.

Stewart, who is currently LSU’s ADA Coordinator, and was the Title IX Coordinator at LSU from 2016 through April of 2021, was questioned by Lewis’ attorney Larry English for close to two hours before Judge Morgan stopped proceedings for the day. Stewart, it is expected, will return to the stand on Tuesday morning and English will continue questioning at that point.

Eight times during Monday’s witness questioning from Lewis’ attorneys, LSU attorneys from the Baton Rouge law firm Phelps Dunbar objected and eight times the objecting attorney representing LSU was overruled by Morgan. Twice Morgan instructed Phelps Dunbar attorneys on how to correctly time and phrase objections.

During his opening statement on behalf of LSU, Michael Victorian said Sharon Lewis has no evidence in this drama and is attempting only to personally profit from a coaching change situation that occurred when Brian Kelly was hired to replace Ed Orgeron and rebuild the LSU football program.

Victorian said Lewis was one of 40 people who lost their jobs during the coaching transition. He added that Lewis’ attorneys have not put together a case full of pertinent evidence at all, only a hustle, and attempted to build a story only through the media. “Not just a good story, a hustle,” he said.

However, during her testimony while under questioning from one of Lewis’ attorneys, Albert Van-Lare, Jessie told jurors that current LSU Associate Head Football coach Frank Wilson, who was at the time former coach Les Miles’ running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, forcibly kissed her on the lips “hard, very hard” at work. Jessie broke down and cried on the stand while testifying about the kiss, explaining that she immediately ran to Lewis’ office and told her.

Jessie said Lewis immediately took her into the restroom where Jessie “scrubbed her lips,” and Lewis consoled her. Lewis, Jessie said, asked her if she wanted to report it to police or to LSU and Jessie testified that she told Lewis she did not want to report anything because she had witnessed first-hand a student employee lose her job after complaining about being sexually harassed, and that she loved her job at LSU, even in light of how she was being harassed and did not want to lose her job.

Jessie also testified that several times Wilson offered her inappropriate gifts (handbags and purses) and she said Wilson called her after hours on her cell phone, inviting her to dinner so the two could discuss work-related issues.

Jessie said that Lewis informed Wilson that he was no longer to contact her at any time about anything but to communicate with Jessie through Lewis from that point on.

The bulk of Stewart’s testimony and questioning from Lewis centered on establishing how LSU’s standard practice of filtering Title IX complaints and sexual misconduct complaints through Miriam Segar, a Senior Associate Athletic Director, and Taylor-Porter, LSU’s then contracted law firm, was a clear and direct violation of federal Department of Education policy which all universities like LSU receiving federal funding are obligated to follow.

Judge Morgan instructed the jury on Monday before releasing them for the evening that Tuesday the trial would begin at 8 AM and continue until 5 PM.

LSU’s witness list in the case is reportedly under seal and therefore unable to be disclosed. The Plaintiff’s final witness list with comments about their planned testimonies is published below:

1) Sharon Lewis

A general knowledge of the events that happened.

2) William F. Tate IV

President of LSU

Will testify as to the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in

LSU athletics, the hiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, his meeting with Colis Temple Jr. and Frank Wilson at Temple’s home before Wilson

Rehiring (in 2021), the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and the Husch Blackwell Report.

3) Colis Temple Jr.

Board of Supervisor

Will testify as the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, to the rehiring of Frank Wilson, his meeting with Frank Wilson and William F. Tate IV before Frank Wilson’s rehiring, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and the Husch Blackwell Report.

4) Joshua D. Jones

Associate Vice President for Civil Rights & Title IX Coordinator

Will testify as to Louisiana State University Title IX Policies, Board of Regents Policies on Sexual Misconduct and LSU Title IX policies; and the failure to investigation allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson after his rehiring.

5) Mary Leach Werner

Board of Supervisor

Will testify as to the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, the rehiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, her testimony before the Louisiana State Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department, and the Husch Blackwell Report.

6) Valencia Sarpy Jones

Board of Supervisor

Will testify as to the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, the hiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and the Husch Blackwell Report.

7) James Williams

Board of Supervisor

Will testify as to the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, the rehiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and the Husch Blackwell Report.

8) Scott Woodward

LSU Athletic Director

Will testify as to the rehiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, the termination of Sharon Lewis, the Board’s failure to implement the Board and Board of Regents mandatory reporting policies as to sexual misconduct, the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department, the revenue generation and economic impact of LSU Athletic program in particular LSU’s Men Football program and the Husch Blackwell Report.

9) Brian Kelly

LSU Head Football Coach

Will testify as to the rehiring of Frank Wilson, the failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson, and the termination of Sharon Lewis.

10) Miriam Segar

LSU Athletic Employee

Will testify as to the concealment of the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, Plaintiff reports of Title IX violations, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, Plaintiff reports of a hostile work environment, the work environment for women in the LSU Athletic Department, Plaintiff’s reports of Title IX violation and retaliation, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, Segar’s work suspension in 2021, the Husch Blackwell Report and the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department.

11) Verge Ausberry

LSU Athletic Employee

Will testify as to the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, Plaintiff reports of a hostile work environment, the work environment for women in the LSU Athletic Department, Plaintiff’s reports of Title IX and retaliation, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, Ausberry work suspension in 2021, the Husch Blackwell Report , the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department , the Husch Blackwell Report and economic impact of LSU Athletic program in particular LSU’s Men Football program.

12) Tammye Ya’el Lofton

LSU Athletic Employee

Will testify as to the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, Plaintiff reports of Title IX violations, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, Plaintiff reports of a hostile work environment, the work environment for women in the LSU Athletic Department, Plaintiff’s reports of Title IX violation and retaliation, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, the Husch Blackwell Report, the Board’s involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and Plaintiff’s allegations that Frank Wilson sexually assaulted her.

13) Keava Soil-Cromier

Associate Athletic Director Baylor University

Will testify as to Plaintiff reports of Title IX violations, Plaintiff reports of a hostile work environment, the work environment for women in the LSU Athletic Department, Plaintiff’s reports of Title IX violation and retaliation, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, Segar’s work suspension in 2021, the Husch Blackwell Report and the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and Plaintiff’s allegations that Frank Wilson sexually assaulted her.5

14) Jennie Stewart

Former LSU Title IX Coordinator

Will testify as to Louisiana State University Title IX Policies, Board of Regents Policies on Sexual Misconduct and Title IX, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, the lack of a Title IX investigation against Frank Wilson after his rehiring, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, Winston DeCuir directions to violate Title IX regulations, the failure of the Title IX office to investigate Sharon Lewis reports of Title IX violations, the General Counsel’s role in investigating Title IX complaints in LSU Athletics, the General Counsel’s role in investigating Sharon Lewis reports of Title IX violation and retaliation and the Husch Blackwell Report.

15) Jennifer D. Normand

Executive Director, Employee Relations

Office Human Resource Management

Will testify as to the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, Louisiana State University Title IX Policies, Board of Regents Policies on Sexual Misconduct, the 2018 PM-73 investigation of Sharon Lewis, the rehiring of Frank Wilson in 2021, Plaintiff 2019 complaint to Human Resources about Frank Wilson aiding Les Miles in sexualizing Student Workers, Human Resources receipt of the Background Report on Frank Wilson, Human Resources failure to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson.

16) Joe Alleva

Through his Attorney

Michael Patterson

Long Law Firm

Will testify as to the concealment of the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, Plaintiff reports of Title IX violations and retaliation, the Board’s capture and kill scheme of Title IX complaints in LSU athletics, Plaintiff reports of a hostile work environment, the work environment for women in the LSU Athletic Department, Plaintiff’s reports of Title IX violation and retaliation, the 2018 PM-73 Investigation of Sharon Lewis, Segar’s work suspension in 2021, the Husch Blackwell Report and the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department.

17) Calise Richardson

Former LSU Student Worker

Through her Attorney

Karen Trukowski

Will testify that Frank Wilson sexually harassed her, the working conditions for female Student Workers in LSU Athletics and the 2018 PM-73 investigation of Sharon Lewis.

18) Amber Jessie

Former LSU Student Worker

Will testify that Frank Wilson sexually harassed her, Les Miles sexually harassed her, and the working conditions for female Student Workers in LSU Athletics

19) Nikole Jessie

Former LSU Intern/Employee

Will testify that Frank Wilson sexually harassed /sexually assaulted her, Sharon Lewis allegations of sexual misconduct against Frank Wilson and the working conditions for female employees in LSU Athletics.

20) Stanley Jacobs

Former LSU Board of Supervisors

Will testify as to the concealment of the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department, communications he had with Vick Crochet about concealing the Miles investigation, authenticating his 2021 comments to Sports Illustrated and authenticating the 2021 letter to the Louisiana State Senate Select Committee on Women and Children.

21) Vicki Crochet

Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips

Will testify as to the concealment of the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, the authencity of emails and documents between Taylor Porter, Peter Ginsberg and Charles Peckham on concealing the Miles investigation and settling Student 2 complaint against Miles in 2013, 2020 and 2021, the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and her communications with Stanley Jacobs on concealing the Miles investigation.

22) Robert Barton

Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips

Will testify as to the concealment of the 2013 Les Miles Title IX investigation, the authencity of emails and documents between Taylor Porter, Peter Ginsberg and Charles Peckham on concealing the Miles investigation and settling Student 2 complaint against Miles in 2013, 2020 and 2021, the Board involvement in the day to day management of LSU Athletic Department and his communications on concealing with Stanley Jacobs on concealing the Miles investigation.

23) Chad Garland

Forensic Accountant

Testimony concerning Plaintiff’s economic damages.

24) Dr. Donald Carson

Direct Primary Care Physician at Louisiana

Testify concerning Plaintiff emotional damages.

25) Dr. Pamela Saulsberry

Expert Sociologist

Through

Attorney Albert Van-Lare

Testify concerning Plaintiff emotional damages.

1) Bianca Renae Lee M.Ed..LPC

Small Talk Counseling

Testify concerning Plaintiff emotional damages.

26) Jeffrey Scott

Former Title IX investigator

Will testify as to the 2018 PM-73 investigation of Sharon Lewis and that Lewis was the only LSU employee to be subjected to a Title IX investigation.

27) Samantha Brennan

Through her Attorney

Karen Trukowski

Will testify as to the working conditions for female Student Workers in LSU Athletics and LSU failure to investigate her Title IX complaint when she reported that an athlete had taken and shared nude pictures of her without her consent.

28) Any witnesses to be called by Defendants.

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