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University of Kentucky faces lawsuit over alleged sexual assault by former swim coach

stock photo of a gavel
stock photo of a gavel

Two former University of Kentucky swim team members have sued the school, former coach Lars Jorgensen and athletic director Mitch Barnhart. 

The lawsuit alleges sexual assaults including rape by the former coach and claiming the school “purposefully” disregarded multiple credible reports of inappropriate sexual relationships.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court by a former swimmer who later served as an assistant coach and a woman identified only as Jane Doe who say the university empowered Jorgensen to “foster a toxic, sexually hostile environment within the swim program and to prey on, sexually harass, and commit horrific sexual assaults.”

The lawsuit also alleges that former Kentucky head coach Gary Conelly, who retired in 2013, did not follow up on being told of previously alleged misconduct by Jorgensen. It also alleged that Barnhart did not follow up an email about allegations or investigate them and hired Jorgensen. The suit also accused Barnhart of intentionally concealing the allegations.

 Jorgensen, who was the head coach for 10 seasons, told The Athletic, that the allegations are not true.

Here is the official statement from the University of Kentucky:

"Mr. Jorgensen is no longer an employee of the University of Kentucky. We do not, as a matter of policy, discuss specific personnel issues. However, it is important to note several things: 


1.  We take concerns that are raised about the conduct of an employee or potential employee very seriously. We review any such concerns before a hire is made or an employee is retained. Background checks are conducted on prospective employees.

2.  When issues between employees (or any members of our community) involve concerns over allegations of harassment or misconduct it is the policy and expectation of the institution that such activity be immediately reported to the appropriate officials for review, such as our Office for Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity (IEEO).

3.  Our Athletics Department takes those issues and those policies very seriously as the welfare and well-being of all of our employees and students is a priority.

4.  Finally, in such cases, a victim or complainant is reached out to a number of times during the course of a review. It is entirely up to the victim or complainant to decide whether they want to participate in such a review or not. Part of ensuring the well-being of our people is giving them the opportunity to decide whether they want to participate in an investigation of this kind."

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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