Kentucky spokeswoman: School is 'distressed' to hear of alleged sexual misconduct by ex-swim coach

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky spokeswoman says the school is “distressed to hear disturbing allegations” of sexual assault by former swimming and diving coach Lars Jorgensen outlined in a lawsuit by two former team members and will cooperate fully with law enforcement.

Former swimmer and assistant coach Briggs Alexander and an unidentified woman filed the suit on Friday in U.S. District Court against Jorgensen, the school and athletic director Mitch Barnhart, alleging sexual assaults including rape by the former coach. The suit also claims the school “purposefully” disregarded multiple credible reports of inappropriate sexual relationships and empowered Jorgensen to “foster a toxic, sexually hostile environment” and prey on, sexually harass, and commit horrific sexual assaults.

A Wednesday release from university spokeswoman Kristi Willet stated that the school contacted law enforcement upon learning details from the initial article reported by The Athletic. It added that no one should be subject to the abuse described in the lawsuit.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and employees,” the release stated. “We have no tolerance for harm, harassment or abuse.

“To our employees, students and the entire University of Kentucky family, we want to be absolutely clear: we do not tolerate these types of behaviors,” the release added. “We will do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

The lawsuit also said Jorgensen’s predecessor, Gary Conell, did not follow up after being told of previous alleged misconduct by the coach at Toledo. It also said that Barnhart did not follow up an email about allegations or investigate them and hired Jorgensen; he’s also accused of intentionally concealing the allegations. Barnhart said Sunday that he couldn’t comment on the matter because it is being litigated but noted, "We always want to have safety for our student-athletes, our coaches and our staff.”


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