New allegations of sexual harassment emerge for USC coaches

Published: Dec. 13, 2011 at 11:43 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The lawyer pursuing the soccer lawsuit case against two USC coaches says dozens of former players are telling their stories of sex harassment from their Gamecock coaches.

Since this story broke earlier this week, the attorneys for former Gamecock soccer player Idana DeCecco say they've gotten several new cases of sexual harassment allegations from former players on the women's soccer team.

The allegations, according to the attorneys, all center around the Gamecock's women's soccer program.

Even with brand new allegations of sexual harassment against the University of South Carolina's women's soccer coaching staff, USC officials decline to talk about it.

Idana DeCecco left Carolina last year after she says assistant coach Jamie Smith sexually harassed her and other girls on the team.

DeCecco says Smith's wife found out about her husband's conduct and then retaliated against her, until the pair, according to DeCecco's lawsuit, forced her off the soccer team, and out of USC.

DeCecco then hired Mike Garrison, who's the former president of West Virginia University, to represent her.

Since news of DeCecco's suit, Garrison says he's heard from former players of that program and people close to the situation who, regrettably, have experienced strikingly similar conduct.

"We've and we're taking a look at that and investigating that and looking at that very seriously," said Garrison.

Garrison says his firm is investigating multiple allegations, but could not release details, yet.

WIS contacted USC athletic director Eric Hyman for an interview Tuesday, but the university declined, saying they couldn't talk about the case.

Garrison says he's found no evidence that USC ever investigated DeCecco's allegations during her time at the school.

That, along with the Penn State and Syracuse University scandals, according to Garrison, is another example of what he calls a double-standard in college athletics.

"There is a sentiment in big-time college athletics to look the other way, for coaches and programs that are otherwise successful on whatever field they're playing upon, and that's just not fair," said Garrison. And, I think society is getting a good look at what that double standard really is and I predict there'll be more cases like this across the country."

Idana DeCecco's attorney says his firm is investigating these new allegations against the Gamecock women's soccer coaches, but says it could take some time before he knows whether he can make new cases from them.

A federal judge has already issued a schedule in this case and it shows a possibly trial date set for next November.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.
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