Boise State University

Court documents: ‘Concerned parent’ email to Boise State’s Kustra in 2013 about alleged rape, harassment of track athletes led to investigation

An internal investigation that cost a Boise State track coach his job was sparked by an anonymous email to university President Bob Kustra in March 2013, court documents show.

The email indicated that a track athlete had “raped multiple former and current students at Boise State.”

“It is my understanding that he has also threatened, harassed and inappropriately touched other females right on your campus,” said the email, which was signed “Concerned Parent.”

“Your athletic staff knows about these events, if not in detail, they do know and have done nothing based on his talent and benefit to your NCAA standings. This is a disgrace to your university and this student is a threat to every female he encounters.”

An investigation headed by the Office of the Dean of Students determined that track coach J.W. Hardy was aware of allegations of sexual assault of a female track athlete at an off-campus house party by “current or former members of the men’s track team,” but he did not report the incident to university authorities, according to an affidavit by then-Athletic Director Mark Coyle.

The university’s anti-harassment policy states that Hardy was supposed to report the incident to the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office or the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities.

Hardy was put on administrative leave and soon after notified that his contract would not be renewed, court documents show. The athlete accused of rape and harassment in the email was kicked off the track team and indefinitely suspended from school.

It’s unclear whether the university determined that other students were involved in the alleged sexual assault or whether the woman ever reported it to police. The athlete who was kicked off the team has not been charged with any sex crimes in Idaho, according to online court records, which show that he has three misdemeanor convictions: underage drinking, inattentive driving and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Details of alleged sexual harassment within the track program have come to light since two former student-athletes filed suit last year. The plaintiffs, who were both freshmen in 2011, accuse the same male athlete named in the other case of sexual assault and harassment. The plaintiffs are suing Boise State. Neither Hardy nor the athlete was named as a defendant.

The suit claims that the university failed in its duty to prevent sexual harassment and to stop it when it occurs. Fourth District Judge Steven Hippler has scheduled a jury trial for 9 a.m. Jan. 5.

One of the women filed a report with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department in October 2013, according to a Boise Police Department report obtained by the Statesman.

The BPD report says she told Scottsdale police that she was at a friend’s home when she “consumed a small amount of wine but began feeling as though she had drunk much more. (She) passed out and awoke to (perpetrator) on top of her having sexual intercourse with her.”

In the lawsuit, the woman says she reported the assault to Hardy.

“Mr. Hardy refused to take any action and told her that he ‘could not help her,’ ” the suit says. In an affidavit filed with the court in May of this year, Hardy denies that.

“This allegation is false. (She) never made any statements to myself suggesting she was assaulted or raped,” said Hardy, who was hired at BSU in August 2009 and was the Western Athletic Conference men’s cross country coach of the year in 2010.

But when university officials were investigating reports of harassment after the “concerned parent” email, another coach on staff identified the young woman as someone who might have been sexually harassed, according to an affidavit by Senior Associate Athletic Director Christina Van Tol.

The other plaintiff in the lawsuit said the male athlete had sexually harassed female athletes by commenting on their bodies during practice, licking or biting his lips and slapping them on the butt. She said in September 2012 that he slid his hands into her shorts and groped her while she was sitting in study hall, her affidavit says.

“She was shocked and felt extremely violated,” her attorneys said in a letter to the university. “(She) kept the sexual assault to herself because she saw how coaches favored him and she did not want to cause any trouble. She did her best to avoid (him) during practice.”

She was not interviewed by university officials when they were investigating that male athlete for misconduct, the letter says. She said she was never provided with any guidance from the university on how to report sexual assaults.