EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A University of Evanvsille student, who reported she was sexually assaulted by Walter McCarty, has hired an attorney to “investigate and represent her in a potential action against the coach and the university.”
In a release sent to Eyewitness News, attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said, “He was the town sweetheart, grew up in Evansville, returned after a successful NBA career and coached the basketball team to national success. When McCarty saw that the victim was in too vulnerable a position to protest his behavior toward her, he assaulted her. Thankfully, she reached out to a friend for support and the assault was reported to the university.”
The investigation into alleged misconduct began on December 26, 2019. McCarty was fired as head men’s basketball coach on January 21.
Tuegel said the external investigation is expected to be completed by spring.
“It’s clear that my client wasn’t the only victim,” said Tuegel. “We have been informed that other women have come forward about McCarty’s sexual misconduct. It’s important that other survivors of this man’s acts know that they’re not alone, and we would encourage them to reach out to someone to report the misconduct. These women deserve to learn and work in an environment free of sexual violence and sexual harassment. My client asks that the community remain supportive of the men’s basketball team, as well as the additional survivors who have come forward.”
Tuegel is a Dallas-based attorney who represented former national gymnast team members and about 20 other survivors in the Larry Nassar case.
Eyewitness News has reached out to Walter McCarty’s attorney, John Little and have not yet heard back.
FULL INTERVIEW WITH ATTORNEY MICHELLE SIMPSON KUEGEL (Transcription Below)
“Beyond the fact that the sexual assaults occurred, we can’t really get into the details. The university is still working on their investigation. Out of respect for that, and also out of respect for my client, I wouldn’t really want to get into more details of that at this point.”
The release mentions the client reached out to a friend for support. Did your client report it or someone else?
“I really can’t get into the details of who, and what was reported. What I can tell you and the reason we included that, is because one of our main reasons for this communication in this release, is to communicate to other survivors that if they’ve had similar experiences, that they reach out to someone. We included that, because that was a vehicle that helped my client get to a place where she could communicate that with the university.”
“As far as the full timeline and procedure, we can’t really get into that at this point. I can tell you that anytime that a person immediately reports to a friend what happens, and those friends who know them well have the ability to observe their demeanor in conjunction with the timing of what happened. That is an important piece. That’s something that is present here. It’s also something that’s important for other survivors to know. They should and can reach out to people for support.”
“We don’t know identities or details, but we know that some other women have come forward and reported that there was some form of inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct involving this coach. We can’t really get into further details. We hope at some point that we will know more and will be able to discuss more. But our real motivation, and our hope for now is that those women will be cooperative with the university and, if there are other women or other people who have had similar experiences that they know they have support. My client supports them, even though she is anonymous at this point. We hope they’ll reach out to somebody, whether it be the university, law enforcement, or attorney.”
“We haven’t filed a lawsuit at this point. We really would like to let the university complete their investigation under Title IX a university has their own administrative process where they investigate everything and make determinations. Clearly they did act quickly in removing this coach from campus which tells you something about the severity of this case, and I think the weight of this information. That is one piece of it, but they still will complete a full report and investigation. The federal government recommends that be completed in about 60 days, but that’s not a hard rule. I often see schools take a bit longer than that. I work on these cases all over the country, and sixty days is pretty tight. We’re hopeful that we’ll see an investigation completed by the spring. Of course what were looking for is, what information and notice did the university have about the risk of this person , inflicting this sort of sexual harassment or violence against students or other faculty members. That’s something I’m going to be investigating and looking at. Then there’s an also individual potential claim against the perpetrator himself. It’s too early to say at this point. Of course we are investigating and preparing for those potential claims. I think any time something like this happens to a student and it involves a faculty member, Title IX which is a federal law that protects students from gender discrimination, or gender violence comes into play. That doesn’t just mean on campus, that means a potential claim or civil lawsuit.”
Is your client still a student?
“I would say that it happened when she was a student. I can’t provide any additional identifying information to protect her.”
Was this a first time meeting between these two individuals? Did they have a relationship before this incident allegedly occurred?
“I can’t get too much into the details, but what I’ll tell you from a general perspective of some many of these cases that I’ve worked, is that rarely do these type of assaults and abuses happen in a random one time communication. One of the things that I stated in the release was that this was the classic power imbalance. I think anytime there is someone on campus who has had the level of success that this coach had, both in his basketball career and as a coach, and was celebrated for his success, it does not mean that they will always do this of course. But it means that they’re in a position that someone who is more vulnerable like a student is in a bad position potentially. If they were to act on something or be inappropriate, as far as a sexual advance or sexual behaviors. Usually these things don’t happen in a vacuum. It’s usually a progression of behavior where the perpetrator is testing and pushing boundaries, and the victim doesn’t feel like they can do anything because of the position of that person.”
Mr. McCarty’s attorney has denied wrongdoing. What’s your response?
“I can’t tell you when the university communicated to him,but I can tell you that the university’s response of the ultimate punishment which was removing him permanently says something about the severity of this case, and the truth and weight of these allegations. You don’t see that very often, and I am glad that they did that because to me from what I know, that’s what needed to be done. I would expect him to make a general denial, but I think the university’s action speaks for itself.”
(This story was originally published on January 29, 2019)