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Former LSU Women's Tennis Player Says Her Coach Failed to Report Her Account of Abuse by Football Player

Jade Lewis, a former LSU women's tennis player, came forward publicly for the first time and spoke about how the school handled multiple reports of her being abused by a Tigers football player for more than a year.

Lewis posted a statement on Twitter on Wednesday night, saying that LSU women's tennis co–head coach Julia Sell failed to report Lewis's account of physical abuse by then Tigers wide receiver Drake Davis.

Four other members of the tennis team separately informed Sell of the abuse between May 2017 and August 2018, Lewis states. One confirmed and corroborated Lewis's account in a USA Today article, which details how the LSU athletic department and broader administration failed to adequately address sexual misconduct allegations against top athletes (like Davis and Derrius Guice) and other students. 

While Lewis was unnamed in the article, USA Today reported Monday that Davis began dating Lewis in January 2017. According to the article, at least seven LSU officials knew about the physical abuse, but reportedly "sat on the information for months, while Davis continued to assault and strangle her." 

Lewis reportedly told police and USA Today that Davis left her bruised or bleeding on at least six occasions during the year they dated.

Police arrested Davis in August 2018 on felony charges of second-degree battery against a former girlfriend. LSU, meanwhile, indefinitely suspended Davis from the team, and the judge ordered him to have no contact with the woman. 

The university expelled him in July 2019—"four months after his criminal conviction, and 10 months after he’d already left the school," USA Today reported. 

ESPN obtained a redacted LSU Police Department arrest report, which showed that the woman reported four incidents of physical abuse by Davis from May 2017 to June 2018.

Over the time period, the report showed he allegedly punched her in the stomach when she went to get personal items from his residence. In the second incident during April 2018, Davis punched her on the left side of her stomach, fracturing a rib. 

The third incident was not dated, but read, "Davis was upset with the victim for waving at a friend. Davis drove the victim to an area on Perkins road and threw her phone out the window. As the victim exited the vehicle Davis attempted to abandon her. Davis then drove back and the victim reentered the vehicle. Upon her reentry into the vehicle Davis strangled the victim."

During the final reported incident, in June 2018, Davis "entered [the victim's apartment] using a key the victim had given him. Once entering the victim's room he strangled her, punched her in the stomach, and grabbed her ear which caused her earring to be pulled from her ear; bleeding from the ear ensued." 

No arrests were made at that time because both said the fight was only verbal. Two months later, she told an LSU detective the full story.

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“I was scared,” the woman told USA Today. “Obviously football has the power. I thought LSU would kick me out, or that something would happen to my scholarship.”

As a part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Davis pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges in March 2019: two counts of battery on a dating partner and one count of violation of a protective order.

He was sentenced to 18 months of prison, but the judge credited Davis for time served and reportedly suspended most of the remaining jail time. Davis was then given two years' probation and had to undergo mandatory counseling.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said the following in a statement in response to USA Today's article. 

"First, I want to say that we need to support and protect victims of violence and sexual abuse of any kind. There's no place in our society nor on this campus or on our football program for any behavior of this type. When accusations are made, we have a legal and moral obligation to report every allegation to the university's Title IX office so due process can be implemented. I have in the past and will continue to take appropriate action and comply with reporting protocols. I have confidence today that the university is working to address our policies and processes when allegations arise."

Lewis's father told USA Today that he reported it to co–head coach Mike Sell, speaking to him twice during the summer of 2017 about his daughter's relationship with Davis. 

"In their second call, the father said he specifically stated that Davis had punched her," USA Today wrote. "According to the father, Mike Sell responded, 'Couldn’t be possible, wouldn’t be possible.' "

On Wednesday, Mike and Julia Sell denied having any knowledge of the abuse. 

After the first incident, Lewis told team athletic trainer Donavon White that Davis punched her. White didn't report it. LSU did not file a Title IX report until after the second incident listed in the police report. 

On April 25, Lewis reportedly told White, senior athletic trainer Micki Collins and senior associate athletic director Segar that this was the second time Davis had punched her this year. Segar then filed the Title IX report.

However, LSU investigators didn't interview Davis for more than two months. "By then, he’d assaulted the tennis player at least three more times, including strangling her twice, the woman told police and USA Today."

USA Today reported that coaches Mike and Julia Sell and trainer White told police that they weren't aware of Davis's abusive behavior until a year later. 

However, another former LSU tennis player told the newspaper that she personally reported what was happening to Julia Sell "six to seven months before that, at least."