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State lawmakers double down, demand in-person testimony from Coach Ed Orgeron

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BATON ROUGE - Officials confirmed top figures with LSU Athletics have no intent of appearing before legislators to answer questions about how the university, specifically the athletics department, failed to address allegations of sexual misconduct. 

LSU football Coach Ed Orgeron and Athletic Director Scott Woodward both submitted written responses, saying they won't be at the Capitol on Thursday to answer those questions directly. 

State Senator Regina Barrow, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, said lawmakers had been allowing written testimony over the past year due to COVID, and the request sent to Coach Orgeron last week reflected that. However, Barrow told WBRZ on Monday that she reached out to Orgeronand others invited to speakclarifying that the committee always intended for them to appear in-person before the committee. 

Despite lawmakers clarifying their request, Orgeron sent a letter to the committee Tuesday saying he would not attend. LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward also sent a written response in lieu of an in-person appearance.

University officials confirmed neither Orgeron nor Woodward planned to attend Thursday.

Woodward was expected to testify at the last hearing, on March 26, but didn't because other discussions and testimonies went on for about seven hours. Woodward told the Senate committee then that he would come back for the next hearing. 

"I want to see if it's possible for you guys to actually come back to the next hearing," Senator Barrow asked at the end of the meeting. 

"You know I will," Woodward replied.

Barrow said the confusion over whether a written response would suffice was caused by an "oversight."

The clarification from state lawmakers Monday came amid reports that Orgeron planned to skip the in-person hearing at the Capitol scheduled for April 8 and submit a written response instead. 

Legislators asked Orgeron to speak after an emotional testimony from 74-year-old Gloria Scott, who accused former star athlete Derrius Guice of sexually harassing her when she worked security at the Superdome. Scott claimed she spoke directly to Orgeron about punishing Guice, but Orgeron and LSU have denied that conversation ever happened. 

Senator Regina Barrow released the following statement Tuesday after learning Orgeron would not attend.

"Today, the Select Committee on Women and Children received a statement from Coach Orgeron, Head Football Coach of LSU. While I appreciate receiving the statement, the Coach's decision not to appear before the committee is troubling.

The committee outlined this process to get to the facts, place ownership and fault where it belongs, and to be sure that what took place never happens again. These hearings, along with all the work that our committee does is so important to the young women and men, and to Ms. Scott, who have been sexually assaulted, abused and/or raped, because they allow for a dialogue to take place and for questions to be answered.

The Coach's statement does nothing to speak directly to the actions that occurred or to which action he took after he learned of the allegations. In fact, his statement seeks to discredit Ms. Scott's testimony by drawing unfounded parallels between Ms. Scott and others. Coach Orgeron and all those involved in this matter owe it to those ladies to stop with this dismissive behavior and to own up to what occurred, taking responsibility for the actions that took place and the cover-up that followed. Only then can we begin to heal and work towards creating a more safe environment for our students and those who work alongside them.

As our work moves forward, the committee will continue to focus on uncovering the truth and finding those responsible for these acts, which is well within this committee's oversight boundaries and the purpose for which it was formed. Our committee will work in whatever way we can to assist the Office of Civil Rights in their newly announced Title IX federal investigation into LSU's handling of sexual assault and harassment cases among students and staff."

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