Lawsuit claims Syracuse University did not do enough to prevent Scanlan abuse

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Syracuse University is being sued by an unnamed victim in the wake of an incident involving former Men’s Lacrosse Player Chase Scanlan.  

In a lawsuit filed this week, the victim claims the University, including Athletic Director John Wildhack and former Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach John Desko, did not do enough to prevent Scanlan from abusing them.  

In part, the lawsuit claims: “The Scanlan Assault was the avoidable conclusion of a chain of sexual harassment and domestic violence that included animal abuse, stalking, reproductive coercion and property damage, all of which Plaintiff had directly reported to both a member of the SU Women’s Lacrosse Team Coaching Staff and a SU Title IX.” 

It goes on to say:  “SU deliberately dragged its feet on investigating Scanlan as the Men’s Lacrosse Team closed out its season while local law enforcement seemed completely unaware of the Scanlan Assault crimes until around a week later.” 

According to the victim’s statement in court documents from May 2021, they claimed to have been in an on-and-off relationship with Chase Scanlan, and at the time the two were not actively dating. The victim said alcohol was consumed by Scanlan on the night of the incident and said Scanlan was intoxicated. 

The victim said Scanlan broke her phone and injured her ribs by wrapping her up in his legs in the domestic incident. The victim told police they “thought they were going to die.” 

The victim alleged that Scanlan later bought her a new phone after he threw her old one in a toilet. The victim said that Scanlan was motivated by jealousy. 

Scanlan was arrested and charged back in May and in no longer enrolled at Syracuse University.  

In a statement to NewsChannel 9, Syracuse University said: 

The University takes very seriously every report of sexual harassment and assault that it receives. While we do not comment on pending litigation, we are confident in the University’s strong structure and robust processes for addressing all reports of sexual harassment and assault brought to our attention, all of which are compliant with and guided by federal and state law.

In every instance of reported sexual harassment or assault, the University’s Title IX coordinator promptly contacts the reporting individual to, among other things, offer supportive actions, gather information, and explain the University’s processes. Multiple offices on campus, as well as external partners, are pulled together to offer supportive actions such as no contact orders, counseling and case management, housing relocations, class schedule changes, and safety escorts. 

This process is confidential to ensure and protect the privacy of all involved parties.

The law firm representing Jane Doe also provided a statement:

Statement by Calcaterra Pollack LLP re: Jane Doe v. Syracuse University, John Wildack and John Desko

Calcaterra Pollack LLP is aware of the recent media coverage about our client’s lawsuit against Syracuse University, John Wildhack and John Desko filed earlier this week, Syracuse University’s efforts to dismiss her case and Syracuse University’s media response.  We stand by the allegations set forth in the Complaint, intend to oppose Syracuse University’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit and will file this opposition with the Court in due course.  As a survivor of domestic violence and assault, our client understands how critical it is for her to pursue this lawsuit, especially for other young women college students who have had similar experiences to hers.  She is hopeful this lawsuit will achieve both justice for herself and will prompt lasting change in the way domestic violence, assault and sexual harassment incidents are handled by Syracuse University, including by ensuring safeguards exist to protect young female athletes at the University.

You can read the lawsuit here: 

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