Monday, January 14, 2008

Anson Dorrance/North Carolina Sexual Harassment Case Settled

The case settled for $385,000, apologies and improved sexual harassment policies. While that looks like a lot of money, I doubt plaintiff Melissa Jennings will see very much. The case was originally filed in 1998, and with summary judgments and appeals to the Supreme Court, the settlement funds probably will go to pay her attorneys for their 10 years of work. (After further reading, I find that the AP story reports that the settlement is mostly attorney fees.)

Charlotte Observer: Player, UNC settle suit; coach apologizes

A sexual harassment lawsuit against University of North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance has been settled, with the university agreeing to pay former player Melissa Jennings $385,000 and Dorrance issuing an apology to all of his players for inappropriate discussions about sex.

The deal also requires the university to conduct a comprehensive review of its sexual harassment policies and procedures, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by The News & Observer. The settlement was approved by members of the UNC Board of Governors last week.

It was the second and final monetary settlement in the protracted lawsuit, which has been an embarrassing and expensive chapter for the university and its star soccer coach. In 2004, the other plaintiff, Debbie Keller -- a two-time national player of the year -- settled out of court for $70,000 and a requirement that Dorrance attend sensitivity training for eight years.


Dorrance's apology letter, contained in the settlement, said between August 1996 and June 1998, he participated with his players in group discussions of team members' sexual activities and relationships with men.

"I understand that my participation in those discussions was inappropriate and unacceptable," his letter said. "I apologize to Ms. Jennings and her family, as well as all other members of the soccer team."

Dorrance and the university had long argued that the sexual discussions were merely locker room banter. But last year Judge M. Blane Michael wrote in the 4th Circuit Court majority opinion that Dorrance's conduct "went far behind simple teasing and qualified as sexual harassment."

The settlement provides for a full review and revision of UNC's sexual harassment policies by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a former Olympic swimmer who is now a Florida Coastal School of Law assistant professor specializing in women's equity in sports.

USAToady: Dorrance, former player settle sexual harassment suit

The Daily Tar Heel: UNC settles sexual harassment suit

Winston-Salem Journal: UNC soccer coach, former player settle sexual harassment suit

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