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Arizona State employee accuses university of firing him for wanting school to investigate wife’s sexual harassment claim

An Arizona State University booster has been banned from school events and had his season tickets revoked after it was determined that he subjected three wives of ASU staff members to “unwelcome comments and physical contact.” How the university got to this point is a battle unto itself, as an employee accused the University of being terminated as a result of reporting the initial accusations.

Yahoo Sports obtained a legal claim filed by former Arizona State senior associate athletic director David Cohen that accused ASU and Athletics Director Ray Anderson of waiting five months before investigating “assault and sexual harassment” claims on the three women, including his wife Kathy. Cohen also accused the university of firing him due to him wanting school officials to investigate the allegations. Kathy accused booster Bart Wear of touching her breasts at last March’s Pac-12 Tournament.

In the notice of claim, Cohen details the encounter of his wife, Kathy Cohen, with a prominent ASU athletics booster, Bart Wear, at a Pac-12 tournament basketball game in March. According to the notice of claim, Kathy Cohen left her seat at T-Mobile Arena to use the restroom at halftime and attempted to pass Wear, a former ASU football player, in the aisle. Wear is alleged in the notice of claim to have “put his hands on her waist, moved his hands up the side of her body to the sides of her breast, held his hands on the sides of her breasts and said, ‘Dave is lucky to have you.’”

When Kathy revealed her story, two other women came forward with their own stories about Wear. One of those women was Leslie Hurley, wife of Men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley. Leslie told the other two women that it got so bad, that she would ask other people to be with — or stand in front — of her when Wear was around to avoid any potential inappropriate situation.

The notice of claim details how Leslie Hurley alleged to the two other women how Wear would “frequently approach her during ASU games” and “inappropriately put his hand on her leg while talking with her.” This bothered Leslie Hurley enough that she, according to the notice of claim, would “ask other people sitting with her to stand in front of her when Mr. Wear approached so as to prevent him from touching her.”

Cohen relayed his wife’s story to Anderson (with Scott Nelson of the Sun Devil Club present) on March 25, nine days after the Pac-12 tournament. It’s reported in the claim that six weeks after Cohen reported Wear, Anderson went on a golf trip with Wear (taking Wear’s private plane) and head football coach Herm Edwards. There was no evidence Edwards was aware of the accusation, and the claim didn’t accuse him of knowing anything about that.

It’s reported in Cohen’s claim that when he insisted Anderson investigate Wear, Cohen was removed from his position in August and eventually fired in December. The University eventually started investigating Wear that summer after “new allegations of misconduct” presented itself, and the school acknowledged that the investigation “could have been resolved in a quicker timeframe.” Despite that acknowledgement, the University noted that Cohen was fired for “refusing to cooperate with a department re-organization,” and that was planned prior to any complaints. Arizona State also described Cohen as “hostile and defiant,” something Cohen denies.

Cohen is seeking $1.5 million for “lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional harm,” but indicates that he felt he did the right thing. Cohen’s statement to Yahoo Sports read, “Even though this has been a very challenging and difficult time for my family, I am confident I did the right thing. I spoke out because I have a moral responsibility to protect three women that the University failed to protect. These women are the victims, and they deserve to be heard.”

[Yahoo Sports/Photo: Getty Images]


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