UT Sex Assault Lawsuit Cites Peyton Manning
A sweeping lawsuit filed by six former female students against the University of Tennessee last week argues its athletics department has long condoned a “hostile sexual environment” stretching back to the mid-1990s, citing nearly a dozen instances of former student athletes accused of sexual assault — including NFL star Peyton Manning.
The allegation that Manning sexually assaulted a female athletics trainer while in college was first reported in 2003, but on Saturday a widely shared New York Daily News column about the alleged incident and a subsequent lawsuit filed by the trainer drew widespread attention on social media.
Manning, now with the Denver Broncos, just won his second Super Bowl to potentially cap what has been one of the most prolific careers for a quarterback in NFL history. Speculation is that he will soon retire.
The UT lawsuit filed last week calls out an alleged 1996 incident in which Manning, a UT football player, was accused of placing his naked genitals on the face of the female trainer while she was examining him. Manning has denied the allegations and said he was “mooning” a fellow athlete. The trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright, later sued Manning after he described her in a book as “vulgar mouthed.”
The UT lawsuit filed by six women identified only as “Jane Does” lists Manning as one of 10 former players accused of sexual assault or other misconduct in making its case that UT’s athletics department has a long-standing pattern — that it “deliberately created (and creates) a hostile discriminatory sexual environment for female students” and “acted with deliberate indifference in response to incidents of sexual assault,” particularly made against “major sports” athletes.
The lawsuit says “in 1996, (then) Jamie Whited, the first female associate trainer in UT’s history, reported an incident to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville alleging UT football player Peyton Manning had, in brief, ‘sat on her face’ while she was assessing the extent of an injury. The incident was settled in 1997 … conditioned on the victim leaving her job at the university.” The UT lawsuit cites a USA Today article from 2003 about the woman’s subsequent lawsuit against Manning for his reference to her in his book.
The focus of the six female plaintiffs is on five additional and more recent alleged incidents of sexual assault. The lawsuit names former UT basketball player Yemi Makanjuola, who was found to have violated student conduct codes by sexually assaulting a freshman woman. Makanjuola has denied those allegations. The suit also cites an unnamed current UT football player accused of sexual assault, an unnamed non-student athlete accused of sexual assault following a party in which the woman was served alcohol by a UT football player, and former football players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams, who face separate trials this summer in the alleged sexual assault of a female student athlete. Lawyers for both men have denied the allegations.