University investigation finds Linder should have reported player’s alleged sexual assault

Jimmy Miller

A report Kent State Title IX interim coordinator Pamela Fitzgerald filed to Athletic Director Joel Nielsen in January found that if former softball coach Karen Linder hadn’t resigned in August, the Office of Compliance, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action would have likely recommended sanctions against Linder.

Lauren Kesterson, a current Kent State senior and one of Linder’s former softball players, is suing Linder and Kent State. Kesterson alleges in her lawsuit that Linder’s son, Tucker Linder, raped Kesterson and university officials covered up the alleged incident. Kesterson filed the lawsuit Tuesday.

According to the University Policy Register, the sanctions Karen Linder would have faced typically range from mandated training to separation from the university.

The university began an investigation in Aug. 2015 after Kesterson contacted Erin Barton, the university’s former affirmative action coordinator, on Aug. 24, 2015.

As part of the investigation, Barton interviewed Karen Linder on Aug. 26, 2015.

The five-page summary also found there’s no evidence that Karen Linder, who allegedly learned of the sexual assault in May 2014, reported it to the Title IX coordinator or anyone in her chain of command.

According to the report, it’s unclear if Karen Linder asked Kesterson to keep the incident a secret or if Kesterson asked to keep the sexual assault confidential, but the report alleges Karen Linder’s failure to report warrants a Title IX violation.

The report also alleges Karen Linder completed online and webinar Title IX training in 2013 and 2015, which covered how to properly report a Title IX violation.

Jimmy Miller is the managing editor of The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].