NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A women’s rights group is calling for sponsors to drop Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning after sexual assault allegations from his time at the University of Tennessee resurfaced recently.
UltraViolet said in a statement that it is “unacceptable” that Papa John’s Pizza and Nationwide Insurance allow the Super Bowl-winning quarterback to be the face of their company.
“While it is outrageous that the University of Tennessee chose to turn a blind eye to sexual violence by student athletes like Manning, it would be flat out unacceptable for the NFL and major companies like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza to continue to stand with Manning in light of emerging evidence,” Nita Chaudhary, the group’s co-founder, said in a release.
In 1996, a sexual harassment complaint was made by a Tennessee trainer against Manning. Former Volunteers trainer Jamie Ann Naughright accused Manning of exposing his buttocks to her when she bent over to examine his foot while in the training room.
Manning said at the time it was a prank intended for another athlete. The sexual harassment complaint described the incident as a “mooning,” but in the defamation lawsuit, Naughright alleged Manning placed his “naked butt” on her face.
Naughright reached a $300,000 settlement with the school in 1997 regarding her sexual-harassment complaints against the men’s athletic department.
She sued Manning for defamation in 2002 in Florida after he discussed the incident in a book and said she had a “vulgar mouth.” That lawsuit was settled a year later, but the New York Daily News released a 74-page document Saturday that Naughright’s lawyers had filed on her behalf in 2003 while the defamation suit was in litigation.
Chaudhary said the NFL needs to investigate the claims.
“The NFL should thoroughly investigate this incident before allowing Manning to play or work in the NFL again,” she said. “Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s Pizza must show their customers that they will never stand for sexual violence – and suspend their relationships with Manning pending further investigation.”
A lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Nashville states Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations and created a “hostile sexual environment” through a policy of indifference toward assaults by student-athletes.
The suit focuses on five cases that were reported between 2013 and 2015, but it also references incidents involving Tennessee student-athletes dating to 1995.
The plaintiffs in the Title IX lawsuit say the school’s use of the “discriminatory” Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act in its investigation of sexual assault cases “allows only accused perpetrators of sexual assaults (and not victims) to have the right of confrontation, cross-examination and a right to an evidentiary administrative hearing.” The complaint adds that Tennessee is “unique among U.S. colleges and universities” in using this procedure.
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