UPDATE: Utah State Police Chief Resigns Over Comments Made to Football Team About Rape
The comments support a lawsuit filed by a student who claims the school gives preferential treatment to football players accused of assault.
UPDATE 12/20/21 — Utah State University Police Chief Earl Morris has resigned over what school officials called “reprehensible and unacceptable” comments made to football players about rape.
Morris was recorded implying to USU football players that women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are inclined to feel regret about premarital sex due to their religious beliefs, compelling them to tell religious leaders that any sexual contact was non-consensual.
In another recording, an unidentified football coach told the team that it “has never been more glamorized to be a victim” and that the football team was a “target to some,” reports The Salt Lake Tribune.
The announcement of Morris’ resignation came Thursday morning. He had been placed on administrative leave the day prior. Kent Harris, who has worked in USU’s police department for 12 years, has been named interim public safety director and police chief.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE POSTED 12/15/21
Utah State University’s (USU) handling of sexual assault claims against football players is under fire again in a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleges a player for the school’s team sexually assaulted her in 2019.
According to a recording obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, USU Police Chief Earl Morris told players in a talk with them at the start of the current school year that if the men had sex, it needed to be consensual, especially with Mormon women.
“… they may have sex with you, but then they’re going to go talk to their minister, their bishop, priest, whatever you want to call it,” Morris said in the recording.
In that same meeting, Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen asked the team to “Help us help you,” urging players to work with his officers. Jenson said if they got in trouble, they could text him “asking for a friend.”
The alleged comments bolster claims in a lawsuit by Kaytriauna Flint that USU gives preferential treatment to its football players. The allegations are particularly concerning considering the school signed a compliance review and resolution in February 2020 with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about its handing of sexual misconduct cases between 2013 and 2017.
The DOJ investigation found system-wide failures in USU’s processes to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, which made other students vulnerable to also becoming victims. The review mostly focused on the campus’ treatment of the football team and fraternities. In response to the investigation, the university vowed to improve its response to sexual assault claims.
In the latest Title IX lawsuit against USU, however, Flint claims the school still doesn’t take allegations of sexual assault against its football team seriously.
Flint’s lawsuit outlines a series of delays, confusion, changes of investigators, a lack of communication and other errors in the handling of her Title IX claims against a USU football player.