News of this story came out in November and picked up a bit of steam on social media last month, so I had assumed it was already blogged about. However, the more I ask around I feel like this is a wild scandal that's going under the radar. KB brought it up on the Yak the other day & I was the only other person in the room who'd even heard of it, which was nuts to me because this feels like such a big deal. One reason might be that as shocking & newsworthy as it is, it's a tough topic to talk about. One thing I know for sure, if what's being alleged is true, Juan Dixon does not give a shit about his players & neither does Coppin State.
Here's the bullet points from a story via The Baltimore Banner (and again, to cover my ass, this is all alleged and from the lawsuit):
-During his freshman season with Coppin State, player Ibn Williams claims a woman reached out via social media and the two began an online relationship. The 'woman' convinced him to send sexual photos. He did so, believing the photos would stay between the two of them.
-Once he sent the photos, the 'woman' told Williams he was being blackmailed. Basically, if he didn't follow their demands, they would release the photos.
-Williams was desperate to appease the blackmailer. Keep in mind, this is a young student thinking his college ride, housing, future, etc. is all on the line, let alone the shame/embarrassment that comes with scenarios like this.
Here's where it gets even worse...
-A senior on the team, Lucian Brownlee, tells Williams that he, too, is being blackmailed.
-The blackmailer then began constantly contacting Williams, harassing him with messages saying he must "engage in sexual encounters” with Brownlee, who was now an alumni who coached on the team. Ex: Demanding Williams to send a recording of oral sex with Brownlee.
-According to the lawsuit, “In the face of the threat of exposure and loss of his position in the basketball program and its financial support, and with the insistence and urging of Coach Brownlee, Plaintiff acquiesced." Basically, Williams felt backed into a corner, was embarrassed & terrified, and so he did what he thought was his only option to save his future. All the while, Brownlee was encouraging this line of thought & pretending to be in the same boat with him.
-The threats & harassment from the blackmailer continued, and now they had even more blackmail. Williams figures out that it is coach Brownlee.
-Eventually Williams tells his family that team members are engaging in 'inappropriate behavior' including blatant/unchecked drug use, but does not mention the blackmail situation he's in. I think this was his way of trying to get some sort of help without having to disclose the painful truth.
-Williams and his father take this info to head coach Juan Dixon, former NBA star who is also part of Real Housewives of the Potamac (uh, yes, we know who Juan Dixon is, Kate). According to the lawsuit, Dixon “indicated that he was helpless to address the drug issue in any meaningful way." Dixon convinces Williams to stay on the team.
-The blackmailer - AKA Brownlee - simply won't stop & goes into overdrive with harassment & requests again. This time, when Williams doesn't appease him, Brownlee makes good on his threats & releases some of the blackmail materials to the public and members of the Coppin State basketball team.
-Allegedly, Dixon admits to Williams that Brownlee is nuts & unstable (I'm paraphrasing here), and that the school and the athletic director also knew about Brownlee having a very bad history. Dixon also admits this to Williams' father and brother in a later phone call. (If I were into gambling I'd be willing to bet Williams is not the only victim of Brownlee out there and that - as is often the case when there's a scumbag coach - a whole lot of people were turning a blind eye to it.)
Here's the conclusion via The Banner, where Coppin State fails miserably:
-Williams asked Coppin State to conduct a review of the harassment, sexual assault and blackmail, but that process caused him further emotional distress, the lawsuit alleges. He was questioned about his past sexual experiences and sexual orientation, according to the complaint.
-The lawsuit also asserts that the university terminated Williams’ financial assistance for housing and tuition without explanation or cause.
In the end I was almost hesitant to blog this because right away I pictured all the victim blaming happening in the comments, but these "sextortion" schemes happen to guys ALL THE TIME, and Williams is so not alone in it. The military had a problem with prisoners posing as women and doing the same thing to troops, because they knew young service members would be terrified to tell their commands. I also had a friend this happened to, and the nudes he'd sent ended up being released on Facebook for all to see. (Thankfully his friends & family are normal, sane people who only supported him through it & he's thriving these days.) If anyone finds themselves in a similar situation I'd say the best course of action is to alert the FBI right away, though I know that's easier said than done.
Back to Coppin State - I may have missed it but I wasn't able to find any sort of statement released about these allegations and I haven't seen anything from the team or Juan Dixon. Brownlee is not listed among the coaches on the team's web page, but there's nothing clear on what, if any, consequences there were for anyone involved. The season rolls on & Dixon's still coaching. I'll be following along to see who this lawsuit pans out.