ST. LOUIS — Two more former University of Missouri students have gone public with assault allegations against ex-running back Derrick Washington, including a women’s soccer player who said her coach suggested she could lose her scholarship if she pursued her complaint that Washington punched her in a 2010 bar fight.
The second woman accuses Washington of raping her in a dorm room as a sophomore in 2008. Local prosecutors in that case declined to file criminal charges, despite a request to do so by campus police. Washington instead agreed to not contact the woman and to complete a rape awareness class under a deferred prosecution agreement.
The women made the statements to ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" for a report published Thursday.
The report did not name either woman. Police reports and university documents connected to the two incidents also don’t identify the complainants.
University Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, who came to the Columbia campus in February, said Thursday that the school "made mistakes in the past" by not investigating the alleged sex assault as required by the federal Title IX law.
"Our internal processes broke down," said Loftin, a former chancellor at Texas A&M University. "Though there does not appear to be any intentional mishandling of any cases in the (ESPN) report at this time, I make no excuses, and offer my personal apologies and those of my staff to the victims."
Washington, a former co-captain of the team, was convicted in 2011 of deviate sexual assault against a former Missouri athletics tutor while she slept. He served four months of a five-year prison sentence. Missouri’s leading rusher as a sophomore and junior was kicked off the team days before the start of his senior season. He completed his college football career at Division II Tuskegee in Alabama.
After his dismissal by Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel, Washington also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault against an ex-girlfriend but did not have to serve any additional time. He could not be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Thursday but told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the 2008 incident involved only consensual sex.
Loftin said the former women’s soccer player’s assertion that Coach Bryan Blitz threatened to pull her scholarship was investigated and found to be "unsubstantiated" after nearly two dozen interviews with the woman’s coaches and teammates.
The chancellor said Blitz was instead expressing concern that the woman’s arrest for getting into a fight with Washington’s girlfriend could also lead to university discipline should she be found guilty. The woman told police she initially wanted to press charges against Washington after she was punched in the face, but changed her mind after speaking with her coach.
Blitz, who has led the squad to five NCAA Tournaments, is beginning his 19th year as the school’s only varsity women’s soccer coach. He did not immediately respond to an interview request on Thursday as the team prepares to start it season on Friday with a pair of matches at the Penn State Invitational.
"Sometimes two people talk to each other and leave the room with a different understanding of (the same) conversation," Loftin said. "The coach was trying to tell his player … that her involvement with the law could involve the revocation of her scholarship."
The new details emerge as Missouri and other colleges and universities across the country face significantly increased scrutiny of sexual misconduct on campus, both by activists, lawmakers and the federal government.
The U.S. Education Department is investigating 76 schools for possible violations of Title IX requirements to investigate complaints of sexual violence — a mandate that is independent of any criminal inquiries by law enforcement.
Missouri hired an outside law firm to review its policies after another ESPN investigation in January into the alleged off-campus rape of a former university swimmer by several football players in February 2010. Sasha Menu Courey later left school and committed suicide.
The outside review faulted the university’s response and determined that the school’s Title IX coordinator and local police should have been alerted to Menu Courey’s claims in November 2012 after a public records request by her parents produced documents that alluded to a possible attack.
Missouri has since hired a full-time Title IX coordinator as well as a full-time sex assault investigator. Overseeing the school’s compliance with the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education had previously been handled on a part-time basis by an administrator with other duties.