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USU football player alleges retaliation for recordings of police chiefs’, coach’s comments on sexual assault

Complaint alleges ‘hostile environment’ after Utah State University football player shared team meeting recordings

SHARE USU football player alleges retaliation for recordings of police chiefs’, coach’s comments on sexual assault
Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium, home of the Utah State Aggies football team, is pictured in Logan.

Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium, home of the Utah State Aggies football team, is pictured in Logan on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

A former Utah State University football player has filed a complaint in federal court alleging retaliation by teammates and coaches after he made and distributed recordings of team meetings.

The recordings “highlighted the problematic manner in which USU handles conversations about sexual harassment and assault,” according to court documents.

Patrick Maddox, a senior at the Logan campus, said that he shared the recordings to help his friend, USU student Kaytriauna Flint. In 2019, Flint filed a lawsuit against the university over its mishandling of her alleged sexual assault by a member of the USU football team.

“My eyes really opened when I met Kaytria in 2020 and, you know, I found out what one of my teammates had done to her. And, you know, she showed me everything that had happened and for it to be swept under the rug and not taken seriously, once again. It was just disgusting, and as a player, as a man, I couldn’t let that slide. It was infuriating,” Maddox said in an interview with USU student multimedia journalist Sarah Murphy earlier this week.

After sharing the recordings, court documents state that Maddox was harassed and retaliated against by teammates and football team staff. The conduct did not stop after he reported it to team officials.

“Patrick officially left the team due to the retaliation taken by fellow teammates and coaches against him, and the hostile environment they created for him, for making and distributing the recordings of the football meetings,” according to the complaint.

An unnamed position coach told Maddox that his actions “could have cost 20-plus families their jobs, right?” according to court documents.

The complaint alleges that USU football coach Blake Anderson told the team that Maddox had “made a mistake,” and the players could punish him however they “saw fit.”

When Maddox collected his belongings from his football locker, he “found all his cleats had been stolen and the rest of his belongings had been doused in protein shakes,” according to the complaint.

“The reaction of the football team and coaches following the leaked recordings emphasizes the toxic nature that exists in USU athletics, and USU’s continuing deliberate indifference to a known and obvious risk of sexual assault,” the complaint states.

The federal complaint names the university, Anderson and 10 John and Jane Does as defendants.

Amanda DeRito, USU’s associate vice president for strategic communications, said the university learned of the lawsuit through news media.

“It is inappropriate to wage litigation through media, and as with all student matters and pending litigation, Utah State University is limited in what we can say. Lawsuits may contain unsubstantiated statements, and the facts will ultimately guide the outcome of this matter.

“To be clear, USU does not tolerate sexual misconduct or retaliation for reporting it. We encourage any student who has experienced or has knowledge of either to report it to the Office of Equity so the behavior can be addressed appropriately, and the reporting party can receive supportive measures,” DeRito said in a statement

Utah State Aggies football head coach Blake Anderson watches the game in Provo on Sept. 29, 2022.

Utah State Aggies football head coach Blake Anderson watches the game against BYU in Provo on Sept. 29, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Anderson responded on Twitter, noting he could not comment on specific allegations but he will vigorously defend himself and USU “against false statements.”

“I love and appreciate all of our players, past and present,” he said. “Beside respecting each other like family, we work to foster good character and social responsibility. We strive to build a culture our fans, community and university can be proud of, and that respects all people. Misconduct and violence will never be acceptable in our program.

“I care deeply about Patrick Maddox, as I do all of our players,” he continued. “Before and after the incidents at issue in this lawsuit, I supported Patrick as a player and in his goals for the future. I wish him nothing but the best.”

The recordings

Maddox’s recordings captured remarks by campus and Logan City police chiefs and coach Anderson, which included derogatory comments about sexual assault victims, according to the lawsuit.

Logan City’s police chief told the players that “local law enforcement wants the team to ‘play ball’ and that law enforcement will ‘work with them’ if they were alleged to have committed a crime,” according to court documents.

Meanwhile, USU’s-then police chief told the players “if they were caught underage drinking, to have the coach call him,” the complaint states.

The campus police chief also made “problematic comments about the ‘Mormon community,’” the lawsuit states, remarking that women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “may tell Church leaders that sex was nonconsensual even if it was consensual.”

A statement released by the university on Dec. 16, 2021 said USU Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Earl Morris had resigned from the university. “Morris had been placed on administrative leave Wednesday (Dec. 15) pending confirmation of reprehensible and unacceptable comments made to USU student-athletes,” the statement read.

Why Maddox sued

Moving forward, Maddox said he hopes the lawsuit will result in meaningful change at USU.

“People need to understand that you cannot continue to put winning over safety. You cannot continue to look at that as more important. And I honestly ask some of these people in power here, ‘What would you do if it were your daughter, or your son, or someone you love? Are you just going to sweep it under the rug? Are you going to do something about it?’ That’s what I want to see change,” he said.

Earlier this month, Flint’s lawsuit was settled for $500,000 in exchange for her dropping claims against the university, according to media reports.

DOJ investigation

In 2017, the Department of Justice launched an investigation based on allegations that Utah State University failed to respond to numerous reports of serious sexual assaults.

It found that USU failed to comply with federal sex discrimination laws. In an agreement with the school made public in 2020, USU agreed to ensure better response to reports of sexual assault and harassment.

One high-profile case alleged former USU football star Torrey Green sexually assaulted seven women, and another argued the school did little to protect a student from a fraternity member accused of assaulting five women before he raped her.

Green has been convicted and sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting six women while attending USU. He is seeking a new trial. 

Contributing: USU student multimedia journalist Sarah Murphy