Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Former Kent State Player Sues School, Former Coach

A former Kent State softball player has filed a lawsuit against the school and former head coach Karen Linder, alleging that the school and coach conspired to cover up a rape committed by Linder's adult son.

Karen Linder; Lauren Kesterson (inset)
While victims of sexual assault and similar crimes are usually not named by the Associated Press or by this website, former player Lauren Kesterson agreed to be identified in media reports.

According to Kesterson's lawsuit, the assault occurred in December 2012 in her dorm room. The lawsuit outlines the timeline of events, including an implicit denial of intercourse on Kesterson's part and that the male Linder then forced himself on her for the same purposes.

Per the lawsuit, it was September of 2013 before Kesterson reported the assault to her parents and friends, and May of 2014 when it was reported to the university.

The lawsuit is filled with specific allegations of negligence on the university and staff's parts, including that coach Linder instructed Kesterson not to tell anyone about the assault when she was told about it and that athletic director Joel Nielsen intentionally prevented the filing of a formal complaint.

Kesterson was the Golden Flashes' starting shortstop in 2013-2014, starting seventy-nine games and making two in-game appearances. She earned the NFCA Scholar-Athlete distinction her freshman season and was named an all-conference academic selection her sophomore season.

Linder did resign as head coach in August of last year, citing 'disillusion with today's athlete' as the dominant reason for her departure. Current interim head coach Eric Oakley is mentioned in the suit as having threatened dismissal to any member of the squad who disparaged Linder's name.

The suit demands compensatory damages for pain and suffering; mental anguish; emotional distress; humiliation; and inconvenience, as well as punitive damages.

Named as individual defendants in the suit are Kent State University and Karen Linder. When reached by JWOS, Linder declined comment. The lawsuit can be read, in full, here.

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