University of Tampa Is Sued by Cheerleader Who Was Raped by Coach

Jul 4, 2008

A former University of Tampa Cheerleader has sued the university for negligence after she was raped by her coach. Among her contentions was that the university should have performed thorough background checks when the coach was hired.
In 1993, according to the complaint, the coach, Thomas Andrew Hall, had been arrested and charged with aggravated battery on a police officer and resisting an officer with violence.
In addition to the negligent hiring component of her complaint, Heather Wienclawski, who agreed to the use of her name in the media, also alleged negligent retention and negligent supervision.
Regarding the former, she alleged the school should have acted when Hall made inappropriate comments toward the cheerleaders.
“UT failed to take any action to investigate, reassign, or discharge Coach Hall from the cheerleading squad when it became aware, or should have become aware, of a variety of indications of Coach Hall’s unfitness to serve as cheerleading coach, including his questionable treatment of, and highly inappropriate comments to, some of UT’s student cheerleaders,” the complaint states.
Regarding the negligent supervision, she alleged UT did not properly supervise Hall and that officials did not go to his practices or observe his other interactions with the cheerleaders.
“Had UT properly supervised and monitored Coach Hall, it would have become aware of a variety of indications of Coach Hall’s unfitness as cheerleading coach,” the complaint states.
As a result of the 2004 incident, “Ms. Wienclawski has suffered emotional distress, bodily harm, and emotional and psychological injury,” the complaint states. “Ms. Wienclawski’s injuries are continuing in nature. Her emotional distress was so severe that she was unable to complete her studies at, or graduate from, UT.”
The incident in question occurred after Hall offered to take Wienclawski out to celebrate after she was awarded an internship in Orlando. He also promised to introduce her to business contacts. The plaintiff accepted the invitation, believing it was a good networking opportunity.
After several hours at a bar, a friend arrived to take Wienclawski home. But Hall refused to allow it, saying he was responsible for the plaintiff and “that he felt obligated to ensure her safe return.”
Hall eventually drove her to his home, where she was raped.


Articles in Current Issue