Lawsuit: Canisius College tolerated sexual assault, discrimination against female athletes
In a federal lawsuit, Canisius College is accused of tacitly allowing discrimination against female athletes on the school’s cross-country and track and field teams.
The lawsuit also alleges Canisius ignored reports of sexual assault at college in Buffalo, New York. The administrators allegedly only took action after an athlete was raped.
According to WKBW7, the complaint was filed on behalf of several Canisius athletes by attorneys Lindy Korn, Catherine McCulle and Brian Melber.
“The sexual harassment and discrimination of women athletes on the cross-country / athletics team encouraged a hostile environment that encouraged and condoned other forms of sexual abuse of women athletes, including sexual assault and rape,” the lawyers wrote.
The lawsuit names the defendants:
- Canisius College
- Head Coach Nathan Huckle
- Athletics Director William Maher
- Former Canisius athlete Donavan Glavin
Plaintiffs allege that Canisius officials allowed athletes to “bring sportswomen up so they could have sex with them”. The practice, the lawsuit says, was allegedly known as “smoking a girl”.
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“This was a feature of the general male culture on the cross-country / track and field team,” the lawsuit said.
In addition, the lawsuit states that high school students often “give and buy drinks for newbies to get intoxicated in hopes of taking advantage of them once the women are too drunk to consent”. Some graduated male athletes would even “stick to team parties and chase newbies”.
WKBW7 reports that two of the plaintiffs – identified by pseudonyms in court documents – reported having been sexually assaulted by Glavin in 2016 and 2017. Each of the victims claim they were pressured by head coach Nathan Huckle, who let women athletes know they were expected to attend off-campus parties.
Both women reported the incident and others tried to alert the team coach in 2018 to Glavin’s alleged wrongdoing.
But Huckle reportedly replied simply by saying, “I can’t kick someone off the team because they’re a donkey.”
In a statement Tuesday, Canisius College officials denied any wrongdoing and said they had investigated reports of sexual assault as well as the complaint against Huckle.
“The allegations made against the coach regarding his alleged bias or preference for certain student athletes over others were found to be completely unfounded,” Canisius College said in a statement.
“The key conduct concerns raised in this lawsuit were promptly and thoroughly investigated and assessed in accordance with applicable college guidelines when the college was first made aware of them in internal complaints filed in 2018,” Canisius added.
In addition to sexual assault and cover-ups, the lawsuit alleges that Canisius granted male athletes special privileges that their female counterparts were not granted. For example, Huckle violated NCAA guidelines by booking more than two athletes into individual hotel rooms and often forcing them to share beds. In contrast, most male “elite” athletes were booked into a room in twos and given single beds.
The lawsuit also states that male athletes were given Nike-branded clothing, but women were not.
Canisius College has been sued for allegedly “allowing male athletes to hunt female athletes”.
The lawsuit accuses Canisius College of allowing rape culture in running teams
Lawsuit alleges Canisius College was discriminated against against female athletes