TThe federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has received numerous complaints about potential Title IX violations by the University of Toledo, according to a person familiar with the matter. The complaints follow a Guardian investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, sexual harassment and emotional abuse by a former coach of the university’s football program.
The Office for Civil Rights said it does not comment on specific cases, but based on internal emails from OCR obtained by the Guardian, it is of interest that the University of Toledo’s Title IX office did not adequately handle allegations against former women. When football coach Brad Evans received reports that an assistant coach was sexually assaulted and emotionally abused by players.
The Guardian can also reveal that the United States Soccer Federation, the sport’s governing body in the United States and the only governing body recognized by FIFA in the United States, is powerless to intervene in college and high school abuse cases because it lacks jurisdiction. sport at these levels.
The Toledo case exposed a complex sports system in the United States full of loopholes that fail to protect athletes and youth coaches from sexual harassment or abuse by those in power. Instead of protecting vulnerable athletes and young coaches, it is the perpetrators and institutions that are shielded from accountability.
Alleged harassers and abusers are often not held accountable, and even when serious allegations are made, they may find employment elsewhere, with a slow-moving accountability process, or allegations that are either mischaracterized or not investigated at all.
“Educational institutions that allow coaches to continue to work and interact with student-athletes after learning of allegations of sexual abuse are running the risk of willful neglect in violation of Title IX,” Christina Cheung, partner with Gloria Allred, told the Guardian. Reported at Maroko & Goldberg law firm.
Cheung added: “‘Deliberate neglect’ is a question of fact and varies from case to case, and generally means that the educational institution acted in a manner that was “clearly unreasonable in light of all the known circumstances,” and the educational institution’s actions. was ‘the reason why students are subject to harassment or prosecution or are vulnerable to it’.
However, Cheung said that bringing a successful Title IX claim against an educational institution is difficult for survivors of sexual assault to achieve because of the high legal burden of proving intentional neglect.
“Plaintiffs must show that their educational institution deliberately ignored known acts of sexual harassment (or) abuse that were sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive to deprive the victims of educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school. “,” Cheung emailed the Guardian.
Title IX is a multi-layered federal law enacted in 1972 that requires that “no person shall be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or discriminated against on the basis of sex.” In 1988, then-US President Ronald Reagan vetoed a renewal of the law, arguing that it “extends the federal government’s power over the decisions and operations of private organizations in a broad and unwarranted manner.” Congress overrode Reagan’s veto. The ultimate consequence of a Title IX violation could be a cutoff of federal funding to a university or college, but that has never happened in the law’s history.
“The bottom line for the ruling is the university loses funding, but that never happened when Title IX was in place,” said Becca Getson, director of Legal Services and Advocacy for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. for survivors of sexual violence. “No university has ever lost federal funding. Typically, there will be an agreement that the university will change what they are doing.
The Ministry of Education has not responded to repeated requests to confirm this claim.
“Title IX is a federal law, and any law is only as good as the enforcement mechanism and the policies used to enforce it,” Getson said. “It really depends on how the institutions perceive it, the policies and procedures and the training that comes from the various laws. Filing a complaint is a lengthy process. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Not months, maybe years. “Filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights is kind of like a complaint process about something that happened or didn’t happen.”
While the United States Soccer Federation is powerless to address alleged abuse in college and high school soccer, it has jurisdiction over state federations and most youth club soccer. Pursuant to another US federal law, the Safe Sports Act of 2017, the USSF refers abuse allegations to the US SafeSport Center.
University of Toledo coach Brad Evans (not to be confused with the former MLS player of the same name) was reported to SafeSport in 2019, but it wasn’t until 2022 – after the Guardian’s investigation into the University of Toledo – that Evans was added to the SafeSport Central Disciplinary Database.
In addition to coaching college football, Evans was also a coaching instructor at USSF through the Ohio Football Association. Following the Guardian report, the USSF revoked Evans’ licenses and suspended him as a coaching instructor. A SafeSport investigation into the allegations against Evans remains open.
“The high school and college football programs are not affiliated with USA Soccer or the Olympic movement, and the high schools and colleges are not Organizational Members of USA Soccer;” A USSF spokesperson told the Guardian. “They are not required to follow US Soccer’s bylaws or policies.”
Under the Safe Sports Act, USA Soccer must report allegations of sexual abuse to the USA SafeSport Center. The Center has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse allegations. USA Soccer is prohibited from investigating allegations.
The University of Toledo previously said the institution launched an investigation in January 2015 after a student-athlete reported being verbally abused by Evans, then the head coach of the women’s soccer team.
When contacted by the Guardian about the allegations against Evans, a university spokesperson said: “An investigation found that Mr. Evans’ conduct toward student-athletes may have violated the University’s Standards of Conduct, but the case was not referred for possible disciplinary action because, according to the March 2015 investigation, Mr. Evans had already He resigned from his post on February 23, 2015.
The university did not respond to questions about how the Title IX office responded to reports about Evans, including a 2020 report to the university about an earlier alleged assault. According to a spokeswoman for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, the University of Toledo has an ongoing investigation into a previous complaint alleging a Title IX violation, in addition to the latest complaints. It is not known what the pending investigation is, but other complaints are related to Evans.
Currently, universities are not required to disclose why an employee leaves an institution. The University of Toledo had received multiple allegations against Evans, including sexual harassment, but he resigned, claiming to local media that the reason was an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker. The university made no attempt to correct the story or explain why it was being investigated.
“We see coaches jumping from team to team across the spectrum,” said Caitlin Burke, OAESV Director of Prevention and Public Health. “We see it not only in college or professional sports, but also at the high school level.
Burke adds: “You have to have effective policies, you have to have procedures that really work. There needs to be a culture where society doesn’t just kick one person out of the system, but everyone is involved in determining what actually causes it. Part of prevention is looking at these gaps and how policies are working or not working. Part of that is looking at the environment, the culture or the system we’ve built to ensure that it continues.”
When contacted earlier by The Guardian about the allegations against him, head coach Brad Evans responded via email with the following comment:
In 2015, I was asked to answer questions about my relationship with some of my former colleagues. It was clear that my interactions with those colleagues displayed poor judgment on my part and were against university policy, and that resigning was in the best interest of all involved.
With the help of counselling, I learned a lot about the reasons for my behavior. I am very fortunate to have the support of my wife in this process. I continue to learn to be a better person together.
I am very sorry to disappoint so many people, but I will continue to work to create a positive future.
Thank you for the opportunity to present my perspective.