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NCAA argues in sex abuse case it has no legal duty to protect athletes

By: Scott Reid, Orange County Register

Olympic high jumper Erin Aldrich was not surprised when she read the NCAA’s latest response to the lawsuit she and two other track and field athletes filed against the organization.

Frustrated, yes, but not surprised.

The NCAA, facing a potential landmark class action lawsuit, said it has no legal obligation to protect student athletes against sexual abuse and harassment, according to a filing in U.S. District Court Northern District of California.

“You don’t expect a coward to come out and take responsibility,” Aldrich said. “They’ve basically responded sadly in the way they’ve responded for years.”

The NCAA in the filing also said it will ask Judge Edward J. Davila in July to dismiss the suit in which Aldrich and former Texas track athletes Jessica Johnson and Londa Bevins allege the NCAA has helped create a national sexual abuse epidemic by choosing not to implement rules or impose sanctions that would require member schools to take steps to prevent and report abuse by coaches and deter perpetrators.

“We aren’t hoping for change here. We are demanding change from the NCAA,” Aldrich said.

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