Former USC women's soccer player files lawsuit - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Former USC women's soccer player files lawsuit

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A former player from the USC women's soccer team has filed a federal lawsuit against the husband and wife coaching team, the president of the university and the athletics director.

Idana DeCecco, who was one of the top five defensive players in the nation, filed the complaint on Aug. 26 in US District Court. 

In the filings, DeCecco, 21, alleges she was denied a scholarship because of unwanted sexual advances by associate head coach Jamie Smith resulting in further harassment, tormenting and threatening remarks by both Jamie and his wife, current head coach Shelley Smith.

This all began, according to DeCecco, in her freshman season in the fall 2008 and continued thru 2010 until she transferred to the University of Alberta, Canada.

Her lawyers argue that it was her passion and a dream for life to play college soccer.

That dream came true in 2008 after USC women's soccer assistant coach Jamie Smith made two trips to Canada to sign DeCecco.

With a full ride to USC, DeCecco was ready to prove herself.

But, one month in, things, according to DeCecco and her attorneys, changed.      

"That trust was betrayed and you can imagine what impact it would have on a young lady who's trying to do all the things that a college student is trying to do," said DeCocco's attorney Michael Garrison.

In a lawsuit filed at the federal courthouse in Columbia in August DeCecco says her coaches Jamie and Shelley Smith intimidated, harassed and retaliated against her.

It happened after DeCecco says, Jamie Smith asked for a private meeting with her before practice.

Inside the coaches' locker room where the door automatically locks, the student claims Jamie made "unwanted sexual advances" toward her, suggesting, she could improve her position on the team by being sexually involved with him.

DeCecco says, Jamie's wife, head soccer Coach Shelley Smith started knocking on the door and Jamie ordered the student to be quiet and ignore it.

That's when DeCecco says, Jamie began rubbing and stroking her thigh.

DeCecco says she rushed to the door, and opened it.

The student claims Shelley, screamed accusations at her, ignoring her own husband, sitting in the room.

DeCecco's filing states that the Smiths began to ostracize and retaliate against her and that the head coach, instead of acting continued "acts of retaliation."

The coaches pulled DeCecco's scholarship last year, according to the suit.

DeCecco tried to report the cases to athletics director Eric Hyman, but never met with him, saying her attempts were rejected.

In the report, DeCecco alleges USC lacked institutional control and negligence.

"She clearly conveyed this to someone in a position of authority at the university," said Garrison. "It does not appear that this was investigated, and if it was there was certainly nothing done about it. And, that's another unfortunate circumstance here that this could have been prevented."

In a statement, the university says it does not comment on pending cases and says neither the coaches, or Eric Hyman knew of the allegations.

However, the court filings say, the "Defendants had no knowledge of the discrimination or harassment that plaintiff alleges.

The trial date has been set for next November.

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