By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief
Former head volleyball coach Destiny Clark has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Newman - the fifth suit that the university has faced within the past year.
Clark is suing saying that she faced retaliation, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. Her lawsuit names both the university and Athletic Director Victor Trilli, and she is suing for damages over $75,000.
As of Monday, Director of University Relations Clark Schafer said, the university had not yet been formally served the lawsuit, but he said that Newman investigated Clark’s allegations “both before and after her voluntary resignation” and found her claims were “without merit.”
“It was determined that there was no evidence to support her claim that Newman or any employee listed in the lawsuit as a defendant violated the law,” Schafer said. “Newman University has a policy to prevent discrimination and retaliation in the workplace and the classroom.”
Clark’s lawyer said she had no additional comment.
Clark was mentioned in the lawsuits against the university filed by both Mandy Greenfield, former director of human resources, and John Walker, former assistant professor of counseling. Walker and Greenfield both served as Title IX investigators overseeing her complaint against a player on the men’s basketball team.
Clark served as the head volleyball coach from 2015 to 2018.
When Clark accepted the position, the suit alleges, she was “verbally promised” the position of strength coach, which would have increased her salary by $20,000. She was ultimately not hired for the position.
The suit alleges that in 2016, when NCAA requirements changed to require schools to have an official strength coach, she was the only one with the certification necessary, but that rather than hire her, Trilli had other coaches make their own workouts while using her certification.
After Clark disagreed with Trilli on the use of her certification, the suit says, “a lesser qualified male” was hired for the position instead.
In October of 2017, the suit says, Clark filed a Title IX complaint alleging her all-female team was treated less favorably than all-male teams, citing unequal access to facilities and failure to manage the behavior of a male basketball player.
From 2015 to 2017, the suit says, Clark had repeated conflict with the player, whom she alleges sexually harassed her players, disrupted practices, stole volleyball equipment and at one point “charged at her” during a verbal confrontation.
The suit says Clark contacted Trilli to discipline the student but that the student continued to disrupt practice.
Clark then reported the situation to then Dean of Students Levi Esses on Oct. 3, the suit says, and afterwards the student was banned from the DeMattias and O’Shaughnessy buildings.
On Nov. 20, Clark obtained a Protection From Abuse Order against the student, the suit says, after the student had violated the building ban. The PFA was in place until the student graduated in December of 2017. The student walked at his graduation in May, the suit says, despite Clark’s insistence that she required additional protections.
In December of 2017 The Vantage reported that the student who had a PFA filed against him was senior Daniel Nwosu, who graduated that winter.
Walker was assigned to supervise the investigation and told Clark he “thought she should work from home” when she expressed concern for her safety, the suit says.
That December, the suit says, Walker informed Clark the investigation was almost finished and it was safe for her to return to campus. Both he and Greenfield were fired shortly after. Clark’s suit alleges this was “because Newman anticipated a finding of unlawful discrimination against Clark in violation of Title IX.”
Esses, Clark’s Title IX supervisor, filed a Title IX complaint of retaliation against Trilli in November of 2017 but left Newman the next month to take a position at Kansas State University. After his departure, the suit says, Clark was not told who would take over the investigation.
Trilli was later appointed as Clark’s supervisor, and an independent law firm, Lewis Brisbois, was assigned to restart her investigation, the suit says. As she cooperated with the law firm, the suit says, Clark was repeatedly denied her request to return to campus.
After the Lewis Brisbois investigation ended, Clark’s suit alleges, nothing changed and her team continued to be mistreated.
The suit says Clark had to reschedule a volleyball tournament in April after Newman held a speaker event that overlapped with the tournament. Additionally, the suit says, freshman orientation in August 2018, which all freshman were required to attend, fell on top of a volleyball tournament.
The suit says Clark found out about the conflicting events that spring and had to pull out of the tournament because administrators would not agree to excuse the freshmen girls from the orientation.
Clark informed the seven freshman and their parents that she “did not agree with the decision,” for which she was later threatened disciplinary action for sharing, the suit alleges.
In May of 2018, the suit says, the strength coach position was open again, and Clark applied, but did not receive the position, and a male was hired instead.
In July, Clark left Newman to take a position as an assistant coach at Rhode Island’s Providence College
The other lawsuits Newman currently faces include a suit filed in June by former assistant professor of education Cindy Louthan alleging gender discrimination; a suit filed in December by Greenfield alleging retaliation for whistleblowing; a suit filed in December by former professor of social work Sue Ellen Gardner alleging a breach in her employment contract; and a suit filed in January by Walker for retaliation for whistleblowing.
PHOTO: DESTINY CLARK served as Newman's head volleyball coach from 2015 to 2018. Courtesy Photo, Newman Advancement.