KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee asked a federal judge Tuesday to strike a paragraph mentioning Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from a lawsuit alleging the school violated federal laws against sex discrimination and fostered “a hostile sexual environment and culture.”
“The plaintiffs have made an immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous reference to a 20-year-old alleged incident involving Peyton Manning. The allegation does not involve the plaintiffs,” the university’s motion to strike says.
Tuesday’s motion includes a reference to a CNN article in which attorney David Randolph Smith, who represents five of the accusers, saying the mention of the Manning complaint was “simply a backdrop to the institutional issues.”
“The issue is how the university is handling sexual assault claims today, but the history has some relevance,” said Smith, who added that more accusers are expected to join the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six unidentified accusers, alleges the University of Tennessee mishandled reports of alleged sexual assaults by student athletes. Manning is mentioned in one paragraph of the 64-page lawsuit.
The university has denied permitting a culture of sexual assault to thrive on the Knoxville campus. One of the Jane Does claims she was the victim of retaliation.
Manning is not a defendant in the lawsuit, another reason any mention of him should be stricken, the motion says.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville, Tenn., last week, two days after Manning led the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. It centers on five alleged rapes of female students reported between 2013 and 2015. Manning played at Tennessee from 1994 to 1997.
“We came together to change what is done about sexual assault,” one of the accusers, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe 1, said in a phone interview.
1996 complaint against ManningIn the Manning complaint, then-trainer Jamie Ann Naughright alleged that the nude quarterback “sat on her face” while she treated him for an injury, according to the Title IX lawsuit. The case was settled in 1997 on the condition that Naughright leave her position, the lawsuit said.
Naughright later sued Manning for defamation after he, in a book, described the alleged assault against her as a “crude, maybe, but harmless” incident in which he “dropped the seat of my pants” and “mooned” another athlete.
He said Naughright “had a vulgar mouth” and that allowing women in the locker room was “one of the most misbegotten concessions to equal rights ever made.”
Manning wrote: “I admit that even in the context of ‘modern’ life, what I did to offend this trainer was inappropriate. Not exactly a criminal offense, but out of line.”