Comment About Student-Athlete’s Underwear Incident Sparks Lawsuit

Oct 21, 2005

A student-athlete on the University of Kansas softball team has sued various athletic department officials at the school, claiming the defendants retaliated against her after she complained to the athletic director that she had been sexually harassed.
The impetus for the lawsuit was an April 2 incident in which Head Softball Coach Tracy Bunge allegedly ordered her team to take a shower with their uniforms on to “wash away the bad play,” after a loss to Texas A&M. She then told the team to disrobe down to their bras and panties.
Several players on the team then alleged that Bunge lectured them as they stood in their underwear and said “great choice of underwear” to a player wearing see-through underwear.
The next day, Assistant Coach Jennifer Sewell allegedly told the team that “I hope you girls make better choices of underwear.”
Shortly thereafter, outfielder Jackie Vasquez, who is the plaintiff, complained to AD Lew Perkins. An internal investigation ensued. Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony told the Lawrence World Journal that “we believe the coach, and we believe the student athletes who have said (the comment) didn’t happen.” Still, the internal report addressed Bunge’s order that the players disrobe. Specifically, she “received counseling and a written letter regarding the inappropriateness of this incident which contained expectations that no such conduct would occur again in the future without further consequences.”
Vasquez found out Aug. 24 that she was being put on disciplinary probation by KU for accessing Sewell’s e-mail. Sewell had allegedly borrowed Vasquez’ laptop to check her own email.
Vasquez then filed a formal complaint with the university’s Department of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, claiming that she was a victim of sexual harassment because of the shower incident, and that Sewell’s complaint about accessing the e-mail was an act of retaliation for her bringing the matter to Perkins. Vasquez was then kicked off the team, sparking the lawsuit, which was filed in Douglas County District Court.
Vasquez named Perkins, Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Bunge and Sewell as defendants, alleging that they violated her rights to due process by removing her from the team.
Vasquez is being represented by Lawrence attorney Al Lopes.


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