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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

LSU Alum and Former Employee Seeks $50 Million In Damages After Decades of Misconduct

“I just want for them to be held accountable for their actions.”

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Louisiana State University alum and twenty year staff veteran, Sharon Lewis, states that throughout her tenure, she filed “several” reports of racial offenses and sexual misconduct. According to NBC News, she took the protection of female students and coworkers seriously. But then, in what felt like a personal betrayal, Lewis’ superior denied ever receiving a single report.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was just all so overwhelming,” Lewis said. “I fainted.”

Lewis’ allegation is now a part of a $50 million dollar Title IX lawsuit against the school, the board of supervisors, and select staff members who she believes to have conspired in “unlawful discrimination with malice or with reckless indifference to federally protected rights to which she is entitled.” The school is fighting to have her case dismissed.

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“I learned after the release of the Husch Blackwell Report in 2021 and Taylor Porter law firm documents that they were out to get me and that I was being set up,” Lewis told NBC News about her colleague’s refusal to corroborate her story.

In the lawsuit, Lewis claims that she not only witnessed misconduct, but that she was also on the receiving end of decades of discrimination, unequal compensation, and unwanted sexual advancements. On February 5th of this year, Lewis was fired without cause. An action she believes stems from becoming known as a campus whistleblower. She is now seeking damages. The university however has denied all allegations.

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“Regarding Ms. Lewis’ lawsuit, we intend to defend these claims vigorously and not let it distract us from our true goals of improving our university,” LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard III said in a statement.

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NBC News states that “an independent report by law firm Husch Blackwell in 2021 outlined myriad issues, including that the school failed to act on misconduct cases that had been reported.” The findings also show that Lewis was the only staff member that was punished for not issuing reports, which was described as “ironic because Lewis has lodged several reports of sex harassment throughout her tenure.”

Lewis also claims in her lawsuit that she filed reports against multiple coaches and players in the football department where she served since 2005, but her superiors never took action. In the meanwhile, several white female athletes testified at a hearing about a culture of sexual abuse on the LSU campus.

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“The women were called ‘victims,’ which they were,” Lewis said. “I feel so badly for them and what they went through. But when my name came up, the only Black woman, I was called an opportunist.”

Lewis says that she has had to seek counsel from a therapist for the trauma she’s endured “working in a hostile place with no support. I don’t know why certain people are being protected by the board of supervisors. I have no idea,” she said. “But it is documented that they failed to do their jobs.”