Lawyer for Lars Jorgensen Blames Rape Allegations on ‘NCAA Woke Philosophy’

by Riley Overend 115

April 18th, 2024 College, News, SEC

A lawyer for former Kentucky head coach Lars Jorgensen called last week’s rape allegations “defamatory,” blaming the disturbing accusations on his support of Riley Gaines.

Gaines has been protesting transgender inclusion in sports since tying Lia Thomas for 5th place in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2022 NCAA Championships.

“This has nothing to do with anything he has done in his private life,” Jorgensen’s attorney, Greg Anderson, told the Lexington Herald Leader on Wednesday. “This all has to do with NCAA woke philosophy and his support of his swimmer, Ms. Gaines. The timing of it, in light of her statements publicly, is extremely suspicious. We will be exploring that.

“Her head coach at the time, Lars, came out and said, ‘I support my swimmer, I support Riley Gaines, she was my swimmer, and I think this was fundamentally unfair,’” Anderson said. “That’s all he said. He didn’t say anything anti-trans. He didn’t say anything anti-NCAA directly. He didn’t say anything anti-Kentucky. He just said, ‘I think this is unfair.’ And it is. It was.”

Briggs Alexander, a former Wildcat swimmer and assistant coach, filed a lawsuit last Friday along with another unnamed plaintiff claiming the athletic department empowered Jorgensen to groom swimmers and commit violent sexual assaults “against young female coaches and collegiate athletes who were reliant on him.” Current athletic director Mitch Barnhart and former Kentucky swim coach Gary Conelly were also named as defendants in the suit along with Jorgensen and the university for their “deliberate indifference.”

“I can’t say anything,” Barnhart said on Sunday, “It’s under litigation. I would say, we always want to have safety first for our student-athletes, our coaches and our staff.”

The 53-year-old Jorgensen resigned last summer amid an investigation for NCAA rules violations after a decade in Lexington, receiving a $75,000 settlement and foregoing the rest of the $402,500 left on his contract through the 2024-25 season. He appeared in SafeSport’s disciplinary database in November for unspecified allegations of misconduct. Details of those allegations surfaced five months later in an article by The Athletic last Friday.

“(Jorgensen) didn’t rape anybody,” Anderson said of his client. “He never assaulted anyone. He never battered anyone. He didn’t defame anyone. He never mistreated anyone. He drove his swimmers to be the best that they could. And the facts here do not add up in any way, shape or form.”

University officials also addressed the allegations against Jorgensen on Wednesday, saying they have notified law enforcement and will cooperate fully.

“We are distressed to hear the disturbing allegations of sexual assault and criminal behavior by a former University of Kentucky employee,” Kentucky spokeswoman Kristi Willett said. “No one should be subject to the kind of abuse described in the civil lawsuit filed Friday,” the university said. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and employees. We have no tolerance for harm, harassment or abuse.”

According to Alexander’s lawsuit, Kentucky never properly investigated Jorgensen for allegations that date back more than a decade to when he was first hired in 2012. Kentucky’s Title IX office has reportedly known since 2019 about accusations that Jorgensen had been in a relationship with one of his swimmers at Toledo and sexually assaulted a staff member at Kentucky. In the lawsuit, former members of the Wildcats program say they were “vigorously discouraged” by a Title IX officer from reporting Jorgensen’s abuse.

“We had no credible evidence of sexual harassment or misconduct by Lars Jorgensen at the University of Toledo at the time he was hired as a swim coach at the University of Kentucky,” Willett told the Lexington Herald Leader on Wednesday.

Jorgensen was suspended for one week during the 2022-23 season for training on off days and exceeding practice time limits. Last February, Anderson wrote to the NCAA alleging the organization was targeting Jorgensen for supporting Gaines.

“This is the reason I write you, before something relatively minor explodes into a story we are convinced will not reflect well on the NCAA,” the lawyer wrote. “Indeed, it indicates the NCAA has joined the mob mentality in persecuting coaches and athletes that not only openly oppose trans athletes but those, like Coach Jorgensen, who simply did not speak out in support of it.”

After initially showing support for Jorgensen in the wake of his unexplained exit, Gaines spoke out against her former coach on the platform formerly known as Twitter earlier this week.

“I took the weekend to spend time with current & former University of Kentucky teammates after seeing the article/lawsuit that dropped,” Gaines wrote. “The general consensus is that we are disgusted, heartbroken, and ashamed to be affiliated with a program where anything like this could be alleged to have happened.

“Lars was someone I trusted, loved, & respected. I would have gone to bat for him & defended him until the end. I feel entirely blind sighted & betrayed. To be extra clear here, I never saw or heard any of these claims taking place, but it isn’t difficult to say I vehemently condemn all violence, especially sexual violence against women.

“While I spend most of my time speaking to the harm and severity of allowing men into women’s sports, we can’t neglect or condone other issues that are far too common in female athletics like sexual abuse from authority figures. It’s my mission to defend women (really, humanity) and this falls in line.

“Time to process and digest is necessary for healing to occur. Regardless of the allegations, my stance is clear. Sexual predators should not be able to obtain or maintain a position of authority over anyone, much less a team of vulnerable, half-naked young women.“

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LuckFars
1 month ago

Regardless of the new coaching staff, the best graduating swimmers will stay far away from UK because the Lars-enablers leading athletics and Title IX compliance at the university. Zero chance they will protect your children, and especially your daughters. It’s not worth sacrificing their physical and mental health for even a full ride. Kentucky – make change quickly, or sit at the bottom of the SEC until you do.

Don Megerle
1 month ago

‘I can’t say anything, it’s under litigation’ followed by the boilerplate pablum about ‘athlete safety’. Charming

Tea rex
1 month ago

I guess if “woke” means anti-rape, that’s good?

admin needs to answer
1 month ago

Let’s just throw the word “woke” out there…to make sure we get everyone riled up so no one digs too deep. This appears to be a long history of behavior that was known, tolerated, and allowed. From one institution to another. (allegedly). I want him in jail. But let’s not lose sight of the leadership at these institutions who hired him (with significant questions raised), and then supported him and allowed him to continue (with multiple complaints filed). They may not have been in the room or on the deck with the abuse occurred, but anything that happened once they had an inkling is on them. And, for UK, this isn’t a one off. Two coaches. Multiple violations. Heads should… Read more »

Lala
Reply to  admin needs to answer
1 month ago

No one is going to jail with a civil trial.

Chestertonliveson!
1 month ago

The fact that we even live in a world anymore where you can forcefully put your ding-a-ling in someone, not just once, but dang near as much as you want, the repercussions are not immediate, but also fought excessively hard is just so insane and extremely disheartening.

jdsmitty
1 month ago

Seems like a case of no competent lawyers wanting this case

peter spamdrew
1 month ago

Why can’t this be a criminal trial… i feel like rape allegations should be handled criminally… you know, somewhere that you would get a criminal record for… preventing you from taking another coaching job…

Ok back to regular scheduled peter spamdrew content… and boy is michael looking good when he takes his ketone shots!!!!

jdsmitty
Reply to  peter spamdrew
1 month ago

Criminal trials for sexual violence are stacked against victims. Between having to deal with the cross-examination of retelling one’s story to not even having a guarantee of a just sentencing to having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s often not worth it

Lala
Reply to  jdsmitty
1 month ago

That’s why you need evidence of a struggle. Skin under your fingernails and evidence of fighting someone off. With evidence there can be prosecution.

swimgeek
Reply to  peter spamdrew
1 month ago

There’s no statute of limitations for rape in KY (and some of these allegations are quite recent anyway). So you’re question is relevant — this COULD be a criminal prosecution. Maybe it will be. But if it’s not – perhaps it raises some questions about the quality of the evidence in the allegations.

Legally speaking
Reply to  swimgeek
1 month ago

For a civil suit – That statue was put into action in recent years and only holds true for victims in the timeframe the statue was updated. Previously, it was 1-5 years (statue) so anyone who comes forward from 5+ years ago or so can’t participate in a civil case. They have to adhere to the law at the time of the act. It’s maddening.

Lala
1 month ago

I wish we lived in a world where people reported rape immediately. And to the police. Not to a lawyer or to some university staff. Rape is a crime and should be tried and punished in criminal court. Universities are not court systems. Reporting rape immediately would possibly have prevented any future occurrences or prevented someone else from being victimized.

Thirteenthwind
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

That’s assuming rape victims were believed immediately, not blamed (what were you wearing, you lead him on, why didn’t you fight back, etc etc etc) and forced to relive a horrendous moment of their lives on repeat (to police, to lawyers, to jury).

That’s asking a LOT of a victim.

Even “if they only came forward sooner X wouldn’t have happened” is blaming them for what a perpetrator chose to do.

Lala
Reply to  Thirteenthwind
1 month ago

victims of every crime have to relive it over and over. it is not something that ever goes away for anyone.

Eagleswim
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

it’s really difficult for me to believe that a human with critical thinking skills would type this, read it, and say “yep that makes sense”

“It’s not something that ever goes away for anyone”… like really that’s a statement you stand by? For EVERY crime?

Lala
Reply to  Eagleswim
1 month ago

Obviously, I was not referring to crime like a door ding or a stolen pair of shoes. I am saying that people who have been victims of violent or traumatizing crimes will oftentimes have to live with the emotional and physical effects of those experiences for the rest of their lives. It’s not just rape that is difficult to talk about in court. Sadly, people are victimized in a myriad of ways like mugging, car jacking, stalking, home invasion, attempted murder, kidnapping, and domestic violence. In order to prosecute offenders, those victims have to tell their stories and essentially relive some of the worst and scariest moments of their lives. I appreciate the magnitude of how difficult that is. But… Read more »

I have no legs
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

One thing you never do in sexual assault situations is victim blame…

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
Reply to  I have no legs
1 month ago

Yet people DO victim-blame in instances of SA. They did fifty years ago, and dishearteningly, it’s still all too common.

Dawg…
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

There are a lot of reasons people don’t report rape. Let’s start with people just not raping people.

Charlotte Brooks
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

Respectfully, please stop victim blaming. Until it’s happened to you, you don’t get a voice in what people “should” do.

Lala
Reply to  Charlotte Brooks
1 month ago

you have no idea what has happened or not happened to me

oxyswim
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

Let’s discount tens of thousands of rapes reported to the police where absolutely nothing came of it.

This was just in one county:
https://www.waynecounty.com/elected/prosecutor/detroit-rape-kit-project.aspx

eagleswim
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

dude I’m so glad someone finally is saying this. Why would we blame the rapist when it’s so easy to blame the victims? I agree, if I get one wish to change the world I’m certainly not going to waste it on getting rid of rape, because the real problem is people not reporting it quickly enough. So glad someone else is committed to highlighting the real problem here: the women!

Lala
Reply to  eagleswim
1 month ago

no one said this was a “one wish” situation

Eagleswim
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

It’s just weird to say “I wish we lived in a world where this horrible crime still happens, but people report it in the way I want them to”

Coswimmom
Reply to  Lala
1 month ago

I wish we lived in a world where people believed victims and didn’t blame them.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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