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AD Bothof deposition in Doe vs. NKU reveals a ‘sexual incident,’ involving basketball players

NKyTribune staff report

A deposition of NKU Athletic Director Ken Bothof filed as part of public court documents in the case of Jane Doe vs. Northern Kentucky University reveals an “incident of a sexual nature” involving another NKU female student in February, 2015 by (then) three members of the NKU basketball team.

“Jane Doe” filed a 19-page lawsuit in January, naming NKU Pres. Geoffrey S. Mearns; NKU Police Chief Les Kachurek; Kathleen Roberts, senior advisor to the President and Title IX coordinator; and Ann James, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

The case is being heard by Judge William O. Bertelsman in the Eastern District of Kentucky, Covington Division, of the U.S. District Court.

Jane Doe’s attorney Kevin Murphy filed the deposition with federal court as part of a motion for sanctions against NKU’s legal counsel, specifically Patsey E. Jacobs of Sturgill, Turner, Baker & Moloney of Lexington for her persistent efforts to invoke FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) to keep Bothof from answering questions. In the motion Murphy says “without citing any privilege,” NKU’s counsel advised “the witness not to answer twelve times. FERPA is a Federal law, not a privilege,” the motion says:

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 4.37.35 PM

The information, Murphy argues in his motion “goes directly to the issue of deliberate indifference on the part of Northern Kentucky University and the remaining Defendants, and may lead to the discovery of deliberate concealment of this incident.”

Jane Doe is seeking damages from the university for its response to a sexual assault she says occurred in a campus dorm in 2013.

The university has filed a motion with the court asking for a gag order of all parties, to prevent Jane Doe and her attorney from taking their case to the “court of public opinion.”

See links to the NKyTribune’s previous stories:

NKU student files suit against NKU

NKU’s attorneys reply to Jane Doe suit

NKU files motion for gag order

NKU student alleges assault by four members of basketball team

Murphy would not comment on his most recent motion or on the deposition of AD Bothof, saying only that the documents speak for themselves.

In answer to Murphy’s question: Were you made aware in 2015 of a rape on campus by any member of an athletic team at NKU?” Bothoff responded: “I don’t know that rape was used in the allegation. I was made aware of a university investigation into misconduct on behalf of some of our student athletes. . .”

Q: How were you first made aware of it.

A. Through the Office of Student Conduct . . Ann James

* * *

Q: Was the NKU Police involved in investigating it?

A. . . .I don’t have any recollection of that, no.

* * *

Q: When you received word for the first time from Ann James that certain athletes were identified for this certain sexual incident, were those players, after you were notified, placed on suspension?

A: When we were notified of a student conduct issue, at that time, on the day that it happened, no, they were not suspended.

* * *

Q: And it was related to multiple boys, not just one, correct?

A: Yes.

Q: And it related to just one woman victim, correct?

A. Yes.

* * *

Q: Was this reported to the NKU Police?

A: I don’t know.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A NKyTribune review of the NKU Police Log during that period shows no report of a “sexual incident” in any NKU dorm. The log is available online.

Q: Is it supposed to be reported to the NKU Police?

A: Once a person had knowledge of it, yes. . .

Q: So am I correct then, from putting two and two together, that you didn’t contact the NKU Police?

A: No.

* * *

Q: Did you have any conversations with Mearns about this?

A: Certainly. . .

Q: And what did you talk to Mearns about relating to this incident?

(Attorney Jacobs objects on FERPA grounds; says Bothoff can answer with respect to the process.)

A: When we have a conduct issue, I do call the president to let him know that there is a student athlete who is undergoing a student conduct issue.

* * *

Q: Now, do you know, sir, if these students went through the administrative procedures; did they go through hearings?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you know if the woman involved, the victim, did she appear at the hearings?

A: I don’t — I don’t know.

Q: Was it important to you, as the athletic director, to gather as much information as you could to determine whether these boys did force themselves on a woman against her will?

(Jacobs objects)

A: I didn’t see it as my responsibility to gather information. I’m not responsible for the investigative part of it.

* * *

Q: Were you made aware at all as to whether the victim in 2015 of the athletic players was at any time threatened that she better not come forward and press charges against these boys; were you ever made aware of that?

A: Not that she was threatened, no.

Q: Did you learn anything else about any approach made to her?

A: I knew that there was a student who was having conversations with her.

Q: Who made you aware that there was a student having conversations with her?

A: I think it came through the student conduct process.

* * *

Q: Was (suspension of the athletes) ever contemplated or discussed between you and your coaching staff?

A: It certainly was contemplated by me, but we went to our policies from a student conduct policy standpoint to help us with that decision.

Q: And what aspect of the policies led you to believe that you should keep them on the court?

A: Well, there had been no charge made against any of the student athletes.

* * *

Q: Were you called into meetings with Administration about this situation?

A: Yes.

Q: Who was in the meeting?

A: President Mearns, Sara Sidebottom, Ann James, myself, Katie Herschede, Leslie Fields. There may have been a couple other names but I’m not sure.

* * *

Q: Do you know who first notified anyone on campus of this incident?

A; I’m trying to think. As I recall, it was an RA (Resident Advisor).

Q: During this time frame, was NKU’s application for Division 1 still pending?

A: Yes.

Q: Was there any concern expressed in any meetings about the impact that this could have on the Division 1 application if it became public?

A: Not that I recall, no.

* * *

Q: On the sexual incident in 2015 there were suspensions?

A: Yeah.

Q: Before the hearing or after?

A: Once the — once the student decided to formally charge, then they were suspended from all team activities.

Q: And was that in the off season then they were suspended?

A: It was after the — after the season was completed.

Q: And when the season started, those who still remained on the team and didn’t graduate or leave, played the first game, correct?

A: . . .correct.

Q: So in reality it was a suspension that did not affect the players’ ability to play in an in-season game, correct?

A: Well, we waited to determine how — what else would be, if there was going to be any additional — for the outcome of the hearing.

Q: Right. Did you attend the administrative hearing?

A: No.

Q: Did any of your staff?

A: Not that I am aware of.

* * *

The deposition is more than 60 pages long and was conducted on August 25 over a 2-1/2 hour period.

Read it in full here.

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  1. Millie Watson says:

    This Bothof guy is a complete creep. I can’t believe what I just read, that he actually said these things and hid rape from the police. He should not only be relieved of his duties immediately, I hope the commonwealth attorney general begins a criminal investigation of his statements under oath. Based on his sworn deposition, Bothof can care less about a women being harmed or whatever else went on. The other NKU people are just as bad. Why are the police not involved! Throw the book at them of this, it’s a case of trying to cover up a violent crime. This is worse than Tennessee or Baylor, at least that was coaches. These are officials running NKU!

  2. Troy Hopkins says:

    I would say I’m surprised, but I lived in Green Bay for years and knew Bothof was about as shady a human being ever walked this planet. Go back and see the basketball coach scandal that hit Green Bay when Bothof was AD there, same routine but this time he is caught red-handed. Hopefully he will be prosecuted for covering this up, not reporting rape to the proper authorities. Bothof is worse than the other guy NKU had as AD who went to prison, maybe they can share the same cell.

  3. Brandon Saunders says:

    Last week it was NKU basketball players assaulting girls on buses, now the NKU AD is covering up possible rape. What the heck is going on out there? I would encourage every women’s group in the area to converge on the campus and let the ones who run the place it’s time for major changes in their sports department. Every sponsor and advertiser would be ashamed to have their names associated with NKU and this AD. They allowed players to play because of the tournament is what a frat brother told me. One of the three jerks they let play has been arrested twice since this assault. What a circus.

  4. Clyde Spencekraig says:

    Time for me to admit I’ve been duped. Again. First by Scott Eaton, who I thought was an honest athletic director and person. Now by Kenny Bothoff. It deeply hurts to read this deposition, how I trusted Kenny Bothoff, defended him when these rumors surfaced two years ago. I did not believe them, that three of our players on the team, were involved in such an act with a female student. Now the Tribune story reveals Kenny Bothoff is just as bad as Eaton, possibly worse. I have two daughters and would be horrified to learn an administrator of a Division I athletic program would place winning ahead of their safety and justice for victims of violent crimes on a college campus. The deposition listed with Kenny Bothoff’s own words speak louder than anything I could ever say. And he needs to be fired, along with all those on campus who knew of this, right now.

  5. Harvey Gosney says:

    Followed NKU sports since the days of Mote Hils, I was even at the first game in NKSC history at Newport High School in the early ’70s. The past 5-6 years have been nothing short of embarrassing how NKU athletes behave, whats worse is how the people in charge of the athletic program behave. The guy who was AD before Bothof stole thousands of dollars. Fast forward to Bothof and we have assaults, DUIs, and sweeping sexual misconduct by basketball players under the grass. I talk to people who work in the athletic program and some who have left, impression of Bothof is not good by most. I see why now. Lets not forget the President in all this. If Bothof is sweeping the sins of the players under the grass, you know darn well Mearns is in on it too. Bring back Jane Meier as AD for a year, and if Coach Brannen knew of this, can him along with Bothof and Mearns. While we’re at it, I want answers as to why Bothof hasn’t been placed on administrative leave after being exposed like this. If I’m a corporate sponsor or donor, I tell NKU to shove it tip he’s gone.

  6. Robert Doucher says:

    Having read the entirety of Bothof’s deposition, I am in shock. He failed to report an alleged rape (with allegedly multiple male perpetrators) to the NKU Police Department; the alleged perpetrators were suspended (which in my estimation is confirmation that something happened), BUT none of them missed a game? What a toothless suspension and moreover, what an appalling insult to the alleged victim!

    And, there are at least two more victims of alleged violent sexual crime, one of whom suffered a possible rape, and the other a possible third degree sexual assault at the hands of fellow NKU students.

    All of this, including these most recent revelations would have been covered up if the press and attorney Murphy had not taken action. They have done so much more for the student victims at NKU than anyone else – let alone the administration who trusting parents wrongly believe will guard the rights of their offspring.

    As a poster above noted, I would never consider sending a daughter to NKU – at least while this administration is in charge of the “student code of conduct”.

    I have a few questions…

    1. Where are the faculty protests at NKU? They are afraid to speak out due to the reprisals that so often stream out of this administration. Let me give the faculty some advice – use your tenure for all that it’s worth. Organize, you cowards, and demand resignations and change immediately!

    2. Where are the student protests? In a time when students are concerned with “triggers” and class materials that they find offensive, their rage would be much better used to affect some real change at NKU. Demand resignations and then let the courts (rather than the pathetic and shameful circus that is NKU’s internal disciplinary system) do their work.

    3. Where is the Board of Regents? Rumor has it that they are currently reviewing Mearns to decide whether or not his contract ought to be extended. If they extend it, we’ll know the Board’s true colors and it will become clear that they sided with an administration that appears to be corrupt beyond measure. Board Members – do something now! But, the kicker is this – the damage to NKU’s reputation is already done. It will take a generation to undo this mess – and a lifetime for the alleged victims! It’s no wonder that NKU’s student enrollments are down, even as UC and other local campuses are growing.

    4. And lastly, I wonder, where is the NCAA?

    I pray for justice and grace for the victims and for guts for the Faculty, Students and Board of Regents.

  7. Ty Adams says:

    Every player on the NKU women’s basketball team and volleyball team should boycott playing until Bothof is removed as athletic director. He is willing to allow men to harm women and go unpunished, what a gutless punk he is. I would say to also boycott all NKU sponsors and advertisers until Bothof is fired and Mearns is impeached by the faculty. The women athletes at NKU have to know about this, players talk. We all knew Todd Johnson and Tyler White was bad apples. Jordan Jackson is bad stuff, should have never been at NKU. Bothof let them walk, looked the other way so they could play a game of basketball.

  8. Jim Smith says:

    How about everyone relax and let the legal system determine guilt and innocence. Mr. Bothof has done nothing wrong in this case. He truthfully explained the situation, which he was asked to do under oath. I am sure there is a good reason he did not report it to campus police. Do not forget this incident happened under the previous coaching staff with their players, this is not on Head Coach John Brannen and his Staff. None of the players in this alleged incident are on the NKU Roster. It is a dead issue from that point of view. Just because someone claims foul does not mean it really happened. Let the courts figure it out, not public rage. Norse Up!

    • Paul Webster says:

      You are either working for NKU or a complete idiot to make such a statement. Bothof admits he knew and didn’t go to the police. He stuttered and bumbled his way through a bunch of objections during the deposition, was obvious he covered up a serious crime. A good reason he did not report it to campus police, you say? Is NKU like Penn State during the Sandusky scandal? Penn State didn’t report the stuff either and look what has happened there. I can’t believe the NKU trustees or whoever runs the place hasn’t fired Bothof like right now. When are their campus police going to step in and investigate it if they didn’t really know, now is the time. They should call in the Feds and police off campus to arrest the guy, looking the other way while his basketball players hurt little girls. For you to defend him Jim Smith says you are not capable of having kids, especially daughters.

      • Jim Smith says:

        Mr. Bothof is not going to be fired because he did nothing wrong. President Mearns supports Mr. Bothof one hundred percent in his deposition. You are nothing more than a person trying to stir the pot with fake anger over something you have no idea about. Even if I did work for NKU, I am allowed to have an opinion. Take a look at the other media outlets today and you will see not one is following up on this unicorn of a story by the Tribune. Why? Because there is no story, except in Murphy’s head and he is attempting to win his case with media manipulation. The other media have seen through Murphy and are backing off. I say they deserve a great deal of credit for letting this be tried in court, not in the media.

  9. Latisha Byrd says:

    As a mother of four daughters with seven granddaughters, I can say I’m sickened by the cavalier way NKU handles rapes and sexual assaults. The statements in this legal deposition, they says this man Bothoff knew a rape occurred and swept it underneath the carpet. How can this person, I refuse to call him a man cause he’s not worthy of being called a man, have a job at NKU after this? I am going to call every business I can find that spinors NKU and let them know I will refuse to buy anything associated with a business that promotes a school with a AD like this who allows girls to be harmed by basketball players. Prayers to the victims at NKU, too many of them.

  10. Kurt Newbauer says:

    What makes this more of a mess is my man Clean Dean Danos is kicked off the basketball team as a player by Coach John Brannen in spite of Dean being a honor student and great guy. Dean is the kind of player you want on a team, Brannen took his roster spot and made him a manager. Bothof helped lie about this and made Dean say he is injured to get money to finish school, I’m glad he’s not paying his own way. Dean should be playing, they let Todd Johnson and Tyler White play last year. Dean can’t speak his mind right now, it’s not right they demote a great guy and superior academic student to manager so Coach Brannen can bring in his own recruits. Talk with David Ragland or Ronald Nored, the two assistants who quit after last season, and see what they say about Bothof and Brannen. It will not be good.

    • Jim Smith says:

      Dean Danos willingly accepted his new role with the basketball program. You really need to reevaluate your life since it seems all you do is complain about Dean’s spot on the roster. Dean was not going to see any time on the floor this season. Coach Brannen has at least seven guards who would play ahead of Dean. The only thing you are correct about is Dean’s academics, he is outstanding, as are many of our student-athletes at NKU. He is a great guy and accepts his new role with the basketball program. Maybe you should do the same.

  11. Katie Desmond says:

    It always bothered me the way NKU went after Dr. Eaton several years ago over having affairs. Yes he was wrong, but isn’t Ken Bothof even more in the wrong by attempting to cover up violent crime committed on the campus? Isn’t the Clery Act in clear violation in this case if his sworn deposition is true? The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act, signed in 1990, is a federal statute. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses. Compliance is monitored by the United States Department of Education, which can impose civil penalties, up to $35,000 per violation, against institutions for each infraction and can suspend institutions from participating in federal student financial aid programs. The law is named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her campus hall of residence in 1986. Her murder triggered a backlash against unreported crime on campuses across the country. Bothof and his cronies violated this. Where are the police?

  12. Bill McClellan says:

    Any man who allows a woman to suffer a sexual assault and looks away, as it is obvious from his testimony Ken Bothof did, is not really a man. His lack of caring for the victim is criminal, his only motivation apparently seeing a chance to keep basketball players on the court and refusing to do what is right. The NKU President should terminate Bothof immediately, and then resign himself. No wonder all the rats are deserting the ship at NKU. Where is legal eagle Sidebottom? Gone. Where is DPS Chief Kachurek? Gone, and saying NKU is not run properly in the dorms in his deposition. Where is Dean Waple, then the dean of students when this assault happened? Gone. I am seeing a pattern here, and it’s not good.

  13. Ricky Seymor says:

    I do not follow NKU sports, but I graduated from Lloyd High School years ago. The blatant disregard for women’s safety and compassion for the victim in this case makes me glad I do not follow NKU. Like some of the other commenters, the AD seems to care more about getting his basketball players on the court rather than allowing the police to do their jobs and place these players in court to face charges. Give me high school sports over the trashy college sports scene any day.

  14. Robert Doucher says:

    I’ve started a petition on Change.org to ask Governor Bevin to investigate the alleged rape cover-ups at NKU. For those of you who are upset about how these things have been handled by the administration at there, I ask you please to sign it (by clicking it) and to post this link via social media: https://www.change.org/p/matt-bevin-investigate-nku-administrators-for-rape-cover-ups?recruiter=594569720&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink
    Thank you. Let’s work to bring justice to NKU’s campus.

    • Jim Smith says:

      Your petition is a waste of time. This whole story is chasing a unicorn that does not exist, except in the heads of the Tribune reporters. Have you noticed not one of the other media outlets in this area have touched this latest supposed story? The Enquirer has backed off because they know Murphy is peddling information to win his case. It is funny the only media on this deposition by Mr. Bothof is the Tribune, which has an agenda against NKu President Mearns. The student paper isn’t touching it either. I think the Tribune has backed itself in a corner and is going to see it made a huge mistake taking a great man like Mr. Bothof to task for nothing, he only told the truth and did everything by the book. We can’t say the same thing for the Tribune or the others on this forum calling for Mr. Bothof’s firing. The only thing that happened in 2015 was in the presence of many kids at a party. There is a reason no charges or police were called in. The players in question did make some dumb college-kid mistakes, but that is it.

      • Paul Webster says:

        The Brannen family/friends come to the rescue again for NKU. I looked at that chat room while ago and Bench was denying anything happened, I would think John Brannen would tell his brothers and cousins to shut up before he is in trouble himself. Bothof’s own deposition is the story. NKU is run by corrupt people, now I’m thinking Brannen is corrupt since his family continue to try and shoot down truth. The other local press is a joke, The Cincinnati Enquirer could care less about this side of the river so I’m not surprised they wrote nothing about this. To The Cincinnati Enquirer’s credit they did do several stories on this rape stuff. I thought it was odd they stayed off this, but maybe cause they got scooped by the Tribune. The television reporters around Cincinnati are just pretty faces & don’t go after stories they just follow whats in the papers. You Jim Smith have some deep issues if you really believe there isn’t a violent crime committed here against a young woman by those basketball players.

      • Robert Doucher says:

        “Dumb college-kid mistakes”! Good heavens, sir, if you had a daughter and she was on the receiving end of the said, alleged “mistakes” (whatever they were, though you seem very familiar with them judging by your conclusions), I wonder if you would be so cavalier. Or would you rather that she just get over it and chalk a life-altering event up to experience?

        Also, have you not been following what’s happening at UK? Students on their paper exposed a similar alleged cover-up. Guess what happened? They were sued by their own administration. I wonder why the NKU student paper is silent.

        As for other media, they are all filing briefs to halt NKU’s attempt to gag them. If you read Pitcher’s recent article, you would have known that.

        • Jim Smith says:

          Yes a dumb college prank, nothing more. What you are missing is the fact the young woman in question willingly participated in the prank. She is known around campus as a party animal and at least four other student-athletes who witnessed the incident at the party all said this young woman is the culprit, not the three basketball players. Throw in numerous frat and sorority girls who also corroborated the basketball players account. What the players did was a dumb college prank, the girl willingly participated. She should be ashamed at trying to smudge their names two years after the fact.

        • Jim Smith says:

          Your statement about Pilcher’s stories are correct, but did you notice he did not follow up on this Bothof deposition story? There is a good reason: It is not a story. This happened two years ago under the previous Head Coach and his Staff. The Enquirer is also intelligent enough to realize they could face libel charges from Mr. Bothof and President Mearns if they get it wrong, something the Tribune did not consider. I do not believe you will see anything further from Pilcher or the Enquirer until this is resolved in court. I know NKU will win this battle when the truth is know. Norse Up!

      • Kurt Newbauer says:

        I can tell you why one TV station is not saying nothing bad about NKU, Rich Boehne is the head of Scripps which owns WCPO TV. Boehne is also the Chair of the NKU Board of Regents. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. I heard some interesting stories about Boehne from his college years at, you guessed it, NKU. He isn’t a pillar of the community that he pretends to be, now he prevents his own reporters on TV from reporting this rape story because he is NKU’s chair. He should have to resign either his job or the NKU Chair position. Hopefully Governor Bevin will steep in and clean up the corruption at NKU, remove Boehne as Chair for not allowing WCPO to cover the Bothof deposition.

        • Harvey Gosney says:

          You are 100% right about Boehne, just a typical rich ego-maniac who will not allow his personal agendas to be outed by his own TV reporters. I never understood how guys like Boehne are allowed by law to be in charge of state Boards, there just asking for corruption to be concealed. He’s a leader of the WCPO group and will never allow the truth about these crimes at NKU. I go back to the days of Frank Steely, he wasn’t a saint by any means, but compared to the filth thats running the place right now he was St. Franklin!!!!!! I think the local press is just pitiful for the most part when it comes to NKU or the Ky. side of the Ohio River. I know lots of faculty and staff at NKU, most say the morale is at all-time low on campus. Bring up Sue Ott Rowlands and her name will get the teachers in a uproar, she spent like forty grand of school money to visit a foreign country on vacation a couple of years back. Look at the faculty evaluations from this last semester, you see she told a faculty dude they should get back at the reporter for the Enquirer who outed her spending all the money to go on vacation. His kid went to NKU and she wanted revenge on the reporter through his kid. The place is beyond help.

  15. Robert Doucher says:

    And, Jim, one more question that I neglected to include in my previous post… if everything that happened was as innocent as you suggest, why were suspensions (off season) of the players ordered?

    I’m not on the inside like you, but I can’t parse your conclusions with the text of the deposition.

    Alright, that’s it from me, I’ve fed the troll enough.

  16. Katie Desmond says:

    I have found the court scene which best describes NKU’s defense of this case. See video. Exclusive footage of NKU’s legal brain trust at work.

  17. Millie Watson says:

    Where is Jim Smith today I have to ask. He was on here mouthing off about no one else was covering the rape story at NKU but I saw all the tv and newspapers are reporting it. I wanted to point out Mr. Smith your comments trying to defend sexual assault are insulting and inhuman. I do not doubt what you say is somewhat the truth but to say three basketball players hurting a young woman is willing makes you look dumb. I am sure your employers at NKU put you up to posting comments here at the Tribune site, so I forgive you for only doing what you are told. I do not think you really believe sexual misconduct by basketball players is okay in any bodies book. I hope you can live with yourself if you have a conscience.

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