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Former Cal WBB Star Layshia Clarendon’s lawsuit claims substantiated by Cal investigation

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Closure for Layshia Clarendon

NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Semifinals Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Earlier this year former Cal Women’s basketball player Layshia Clarendon filed a civil lawsuit against Cal on a Sexual Harrasement and Violence claim. The claim was substantiated today via Cal’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. The lawsuit however was thrown out earlier this month due to the expiration of the statute of limitations of the claim. ESPN’s Kate Fagan wrote up the article and we’ve pulled some of the article in a quote below.

An internal investigation by the University of California-Berkeley has substantiated claims of sexual violence and harassment against longtime athletic department employee Mohamed Muqtar.

On April 17, Cal sent copies of the finished report to the seven women, all former Cal student-athletes, who claimed abuse by Muqtar dating back nearly 20 years. Among the women is current WNBA All-Star Layshia Clarendon, whose lawsuit filed in January jump-started the school’s investigation into Muqtar. Clarendon’s accusations against Muqtar include a physical assault in 2009-10, during her freshman year at Cal, when she was 18 years old.

A copy of the report was also sent to the Cal athletic department by deputy Title IX compliance officer Yohance Edwards. When reached by ESPN, Cal Athletics confirmed that it had fired Muqtar, effective May 11, and offered the following explanation: “Our primary goal as an athletic department is to support and provide an outstanding student-athlete experience, and it pains us to hear about these actions by one of our employees who they turned to as a trusted adviser. The findings described in the report are appalling, wholly unacceptable and have no place in our department, on campus or anywhere.”

The report, obtained by ESPN, said the investigation was conducted by an outside investigator for Cal’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). According to the report, “Based on consideration of [Cal’s sexual harassment and sexual violence policy] and the relevant information gathered through the investigation ... the investigator found that the conduct as described ... is SUBSTANTIATED and that [Muqtar] is therefore RESPONSIBLE for a violation of the policies.” The report addressed complaints made by seven women. In the document, Muqtar’s name is redacted, and he is listed as “respondent.” When contacted by ESPN, four of the complainants confirmed that the redacted name, the “respondent,” was Muqtar.

When reached on his cellphone in January, Muqtar said he had “no comment” on Clarendon’s pending lawsuit and immediately hung up. Repeated calls to the same cellphone number this week went straight to voicemail.

Muqtar was initially put on investigatory leave on Dec. 12, 2017, after the school was notified of Clarendon’s pending lawsuit, which claims negligence on the part of the regents who oversee Cal. Muqtar, 61, was directed to have no contact with former or present Cal student-athletes or recruits and was ordered to not enter the school’s athletic facilities without permission. According to the report, the athletic department had until the end of May -- 40 days from the delivery of the internal investigation report -- to implement a decision on the employment status of Muqtar, who is the assistant athletic director for student services. He started work in the athletic department nearly 25 years ago.

Separately, on May 4, Alameda County Superior Court threw out Clarendon’s civil lawsuit against Cal because the statute of limitations had expired. In California, the statute of limitations in cases of personal injury for someone 18 years or older is two years. Jennifer Bandlow, Clarendon’s lawyer, said they would appeal the ruling, contending that in Clarendon’s case, the clock on the statute of limitations shouldn’t have started because her injuries did not manifest immediately. In fact, according to Bandlow, Clarendon did not begin to understand the alleged assault and its implications until she started therapy in 2017.

”Ms. Clarendon was assaulted in 2009 when she was 18 years old, and like many survivors, her psychological harm from the assault did not manifest until years later, in 2017,” Bandlow said. “This ruling effectively bars Ms. Clarendon, and others like her, from seeking civil redress of her psychological injuries.”

Outside the Lines has spoken at length with Clarendon, as well as with nearly a dozen other former Cal student-athletes and administrators, about their experiences with Muqtar. Many spoke on the record and are willing to put their names to their experiences. In total, the women paint a picture of someone they initially saw as a father figure and whom the Cal athletic department billed as a mentor and friend -- a man who gradually earned, then shattered, their trust.

The question of what Cal Athletics knew about Muqtar’s behavior over the course of his nearly 25-year employment is still unanswered. Nearly all of the women OTL spoke with expressed incredulity at the possibility that everyone in the athletic department was in the dark, labeling Muqtar’s behavior an “open secret.”

For its part, Cal Athletics said it aimed to get to the bottom of this important question, offering the following: “Regarding whether we should have known about such allegations sooner, that is something we want to know and are looking into in order to gain an understanding of what did or did not occur previously.”

For the rest of the article and video interview with Layshia, click here.

Cal Athletics provided CGB with the following statement regarding the claims and investigation.

Our primary goal as an athletic department is to support and provide an outstanding student-athlete experience, and it pains us to hear about these actions by one of our employees who student-athletes turned to as a trusted adviser. The findings described in the report are appalling, wholly unacceptable and have no place in our department, on campus or anywhere.

Once the campus was made aware of the concerns, Mohamed Muqtar was placed on leave from the university, and the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (Title IX office) launched a thorough investigation, which concluded that he was found to have violated the university’s sexual violence and sexual harassment policy, involving several former student-athletes. The disciplinary process has now concluded and Mr. Muqtar was terminated effective May 11, 2018.

Our thoughts are with the survivors and providing them with the resources they need through the healing process. No one should be subject to unwanted advances or verbal or physical abuse, and we encourage any member of our campus community who has experienced sexual violence or sexual assault to reach out for help, which can include counseling, academic accommodations, information about the reporting process, and more.

Those who wish to file a report may contact the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (Title IX office) and/or, for criminal matters, UCPD.

Support services include the confidential advocates at the campus’s PATH to Care Center, which serves every member of our campus community impacted by sexual violence and sexual harassment, no matter when or where an experience took place. The center offers affirming and empowering support as well as guidance in navigating campus resources. Social Services at University Health Services/Tang Center also provides confidential counseling and other assistance

Additional support and resource information is available at survivorsupport.berkeley.edu.

Cal Athletics is committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected, and the department, as well as the entire campus, has taken additional steps in recent years to address these issues. Through department-sponsored workshops, trainings and speaker series, coaches, staff and student-athletes have participated in formal training in sexual violence awareness and prevention, bystander intervention, and campus reporting procedures. An environment of care and respect must be ingrained in our culture with the understanding that the type of behavior described in the findings report is inexcusable and will not be tolerated.