A federal judge has ordered the University of Arizona to produce investigative files related to 16 complaints of domestic violence, sexual assault or sexual harassment in the athletic department, as part of an ongoing lawsuit involving former Wildcats running back Orlando Bradford’s abuse of women.
Judge Susan R. Bolton ordered the UA to produce the files, but denied the plaintiff’s request for additional sanctions, including attorneys’ fees. The plaintiff said the UA withheld critical evidence in the case, and that the university’s omission called into question many of the statements already made during the discovery process.
Bradford is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for domestic violence-related aggravated assault, after he admitted to hitting and choking two of his ex-girlfriends. Bradford was kicked off the UA football team in September 2016, following his arrest.
Two of Bradford’s victims have filed federal lawsuits against the UA, saying that school officials had previous knowledge that he was abusive toward another student but failed to take appropriate action. The lawsuits say that the UA violated the victims’ Title IX rights to an education free from discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, abuse or dating violence.
The Star does not typically name victims of domestic or dating violence.
While the two federal lawsuits are similar, they have played out largely separately in court, with the only overlaps being shared depositions of common witnesses.
In June, lawyers for the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits filed a motion for sanctions against the UA. The motion came after a UA employee turned over an email of a handwritten note by senior associate athletic director Erika Barnes that detailed Bradford’s abuse of the victim and another woman. Barnes’ note, dated March 23, 2016, was emailed to Dean of Students Kendal Washington White and then-Title IX investigator Susan Wilson, but was not initially included in the UA’s discovery materials.
Attorneys for the UA have maintained that no one at the school knew about Bradford’s abuse of the plaintiff until his September 2016 arrest.
In her Oct. 2 ruling, Bolton said the UA “has arguably acted negligently in failing to thoroughly search its electronic and physical records for relevant information” but that she was unwilling to conclude that the actions rose to the level of bad faith.
As part of the discovery process, lawyers for the UA previously produced a chart of 16 Title IX complaints involving student-athletes, athletic department employees and coaches that were investigated by the Dean of Students Office between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2017.
Attorneys for the plaintiff say they have not received full investigative reports related to the cases, along with any internal documents related to the UA’s handling of the cases which could show the school’s policies surrounding its response to Title IX complaints.
Bolton denied a previous motion for sanctions on Sept. 11 related to what plaintiff’s attorneys said was destruction of evidence by UA officials.
Former football coach Rich Rodriguez and former assistant coach Calvin Magee said in their depositions that they had lost information related to Bradford when they were fired by the UA. Rodriguez admitted to throwing away his physical player files, and Magee said that text messages related to Bradford were lost when he exchanged his Android phone for an iPhone.
Barnes also said she lost text messages on her iPhone when she upgraded to a newer model.
Bolton ruled that there was no way of telling whether the lost information would have affected the case, and denied the motion for sanctions.
This federal lawsuit was set for a jury trial on Dec. 9, but the trial date was recently vacated to allow more time for the parties to respond to motions and produce discovery.
Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt.
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