A former University of Evansville student who says she was sexually assaulted by former men’s basketball coach Walter McCarty is suing the university, saying it failed to provide a safe environment.
The federal lawsuit was filed Monday by well-known victim’s rights attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel, who has represented sexual abuse survivors in high-profile cases against Michigan State University and the U.S. Olympic Committee over convicted rapist and former doctor Larry Nassar.
McCarty was fired Jan. 21, 2020, after fewer than two years on the job and amid a university investigation over allegations of sexual impropriety. Neither he nor UE has publicly commented on that investigation.
The former student, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, is described by attorneys as a former UE athletic trainer. She alleges McCarty sent her inappropriate messages on Instagram, Snapchat and text, which escalated to him pressuring her to visit his home.
The Title IX lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount including “actual damages, compensatory damages, court costs, attorneys’ fees, and pre- and post-judgment interest.”
The University of Evansville didn’t immediately comment.
Reached Monday night, McCarty told the Courier & Press the allegations are “totally fabricated” and that he intends to clear his name.
“It’s untrue, and I can’t wait for the evidence to present itself that it’s a totally fabricated story,” McCarty said. “I’ve never assaulted anyone in my 47 years on this earth. It’s disheartening that someone would make up a lie to gain financial rewards.”
Doe said she visited McCarty’s residence Dec. 9, 2019. Once inside, she alleges, McCarty began grabbing her and sexually assaulted her by touching her breasts and buttocks, and digitally penetrating her, according to the lawsuit.
Doe’s attorneys say she reported the incident to a campus counselor three days later. The former student says she experienced severe stress, academic setbacks and threats of retaliation from McCarty.
The lawsuit alleges university officials received the following reports after McCarty’s March 2018 hire:
- A June 6, 2018, report known to both the director of athletics and a university board member that McCarty had acted inappropriately with a woman at a local restaurant.
- A July 2018 report to the school’s administration that McCarty had been sending persistent and unwanted messages to a university employee, inviting her to bars, restaurants and his home.
- A September 2018 report made to the dean of students that McCarty sent a female student unwelcome and harassing text messages.
- Multiple reports from fall 2018 through summer 2019 that McCarty routinely sent a female employee in the athletic department inappropriate messages inviting her to attend events with him and asking to see a photo of her wearing a swimsuit.
- A June 2019 report made to the UE vice president of student affairs and the dean of students that McCarty sent a former student private Instagram messages that made her uncomfortable.
- A Nov. 5, 2019. report made to the campus Title IX Coordinator that McCarty had for weeks been giving uncomfortable attention and initiating unwanted physical contact with a female student who worked in the University Center Café court.
- A Dec. 11, 2019. report made by two high-ranking university employees that raised concerns about McCarty’s alleged behavior with others in the UE community. This was two days after McCarty’s alleged sexual assault of Doe.
“The female students and employees who experienced this pattern of harassment and sexual misconduct are real people, real women who simply wanted a safe environment to learn and work in, and our university failed us,” Doe said in a news release. “I am heartbroken that my school knew about Coach McCarty’s misconduct before what happened to me, and looked the other way. I will continue to go through this difficult process of holding the university accountable, because I want to prevent other women from going through the same thing I did.”
McCarty is an Evansville native who won a national championship as a player at Kentucky in 1996 and went on to have a decade-long NBA career, most notably with the Boston Celtics. He later spent five years as a Celtics assistant coach before accepting the UE job.
Title IX was passed in 1972. At first, the main emphasis was on gender equity, but it has evolved to focus more attention on sexual violence, which is considered an extreme form of discrimination. Some examples of violations: Derogatory or sexist remarks, sexually suggestive jokes, inappropriate touching, physical sexual advances and more.
Said Tuegel: “It’s stunning that this university shrugged off a lengthy series of complaints, made to multiple campus officials. If the university had just paid attention to what a long line of women was trying to tell them, it could have stopped a woman from being raped. It was no secret to university officials that McCarty was a predator, but they sat on their hands and did nothing.”