Orlando Bradford

Orlando Bradford was dismissed from the UA football team after his arrest last year. “We have a rule,” said coach Rich Rodriguez at the time. “You put your hands on a woman, you’re done.”

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

Attorneys for the University of Arizona have denied for the second time that the athletic department claimed to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding domestic violence.

The denial came in a Friday response to an amended federal lawsuit levied against the Arizona Board of Regents by a woman who says school officials knew former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford was abusing women but failed to take appropriate action to protect other students.

Bradford was sentenced to five years in prison in November in connection with choking two women. Both of those women are now suing the school in separate federal lawsuits.

The first lawsuit was filed in October, after which Assistant Attorney General Claudia Acosta Collings — who is representing the UA in both suits — filed a response denying nearly all claims, including a portion of the suit that referenced the athletic department’s “zero-tolerance” policy toward domestic violence.

The second lawsuit was filed in January and amended two weeks later to include allegations of a hostile environment in the athletic department that included rampant sexual harassment and assault, including gang rapes by members of the football team. It’s unclear if any football players were investigated or arrested in connection to the purported rapes.

In the UA’s response to the second suit, Collings again denied a portion of the suit that referenced fired football coach Rich Rodriguez’s comments to reporters about how the football team doesn’t tolerate domestic violence.

Five days after Bradford’s arrest and subsequent dismissal from the team, Rodriguez told reporters: “We have a rule. You put your hands on a woman, you’re done. That’s it. If you did it, if you put your hands on a woman in any way, shape or form, you’re done. Next.”

The lawsuit says that school officials also “falsely announced that this was Mr. Bradford’s ‘first’ act of domestic violence” but knew that he’d been investigated by campus police a few months before his arrest, when a third woman complained he’d been violent with her.

The response repeatedly denies that any UA athletic staff or coaches knew about Bradford’s abuse of any of the three women and says that the school “exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior” and that the woman “failed to take advantage of preventative opportunities or to otherwise avoid harm.”

The response says the woman’s “injuries and damages, if any” were her fault, and the fault of parties who have not been named in the suit, adding that Bradford is a non-party at fault in the case.

Both the UA and the woman who filed the suit have requested a jury trial.

For details about the most recent federal lawsuit, visit tucne.ws/uhj and tucne.ws/uhm.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at cschmidt@tucson.com or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

Investigative sports reporter