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Former ASU athletics official claims he was fired for reporting sexual harassment

David Cohen demanded an investigation into a now-former booster for harassing three women

breaking news graphic

Graphic published on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018.

A former associate athletic director at ASU claims he was fired in 2019 for reporting sexual assault to the University, he said in a $1.5 million claim against the school, according to University officials and documents obtained by The State Press. 

David Cohen, who served in the department for over five years, requested the University investigate Bart Wear, a now-former booster for the department, for harassing three women in 2019, including his wife, Kathy. The story was first reported by Yahoo Sports

The University hired an independent law firm in the summer of 2019 to conduct an investigation regarding Cohen's allegations. The law firm concluded the donor had not, "grabbed anyone or sexually assaulted anyone," also stating, "nor did any of the three individuals claim that he had done so."

The University's conclusion from the independent investigation does not identify the three individuals, and the legal documents were redacted. 

According to the notice of claim, Cohen is seeking $1.5 million for various damages, primarily noting lost wages, suffering and emotional harm after he was terminated for, "his constant and persistent complaints to ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson."

The events reportedly took place at the Pac-12 Men’s Tournament on March 14, 2019, in Las Vegas, where Kathy was approached by Wear and he reportedly, “put his hands on her waist, moved his hands up the side of her body to the sides of her breast, held his hands on the sides of her breasts and said, ‘Dave is lucky to have you,’” according to the document.

A University spokesperson said in a statement that Cohen was terminated, "after refusing to cooperate with a department reorganization that was planned prior to any complaints about the donor being made," and, "had nothing to do with the donor issue referenced in his notice of claim."

Cohen reportedly had not expressed concerns previously regarding Wear's conduct and, "in fact was responsible for distributing the tickets to the event that placed the donor in proximity to his wife and the other individuals who expressed concerns," according to the spokesperson.

The independent investigation also found the University, "did not retaliate against Mr. Cohen with respect to his termination."

The University acknowledged the complaints from Cohen should have been addressed and resolved faster.

“Even though this has been a very challenging and difficult time for me and my family, I am confident I did the right thing,” Cohen said in a statement. “I spoke out because I have a moral responsibility to protect three women that the University failed to protect. These women are victims and deserve to be heard.”

According to the spokesperson, the University canceled Wear's season tickets and informed him that he is, "no longer welcome at university events." He was a Sun Devil Club member and had regularly attended men's basketball games.  

“Tragically, ASU did not take adequate steps to protect members of its community despite possessing all necessary and relevant information as early as March 2019 and quite possibly before then,” Michael Perez, the attorney serving Cohen said in a statement. “Arizona State University obviously learned nothing from the #Me Too movement. When you believe harassers over victims, everyone suffers.”

Cohen was fired in August 2019 and formally removed from his position in December 2019.

Anderson hired Cohen in June 2014 after working alongside Cohen for the four years in which the former served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Atlanta Falcons. 

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Jeffrey HorstDigital editor-in-chief

Jeffrey Horst is the digital editor-in-chief of The State Press. He previously served as the publication's sports editor and worked at Cronkite News and

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