University of Arizona Added To Claim Against Rodriguez
A former administrative assistant, who filed a $7.5 million sexual harassment claim against Rich Rodriguez last month, has recently added an additional $8.5 million claim against the University of Arizona, stating the school was liable for Rodriguez’s conduct.
Melissa Wilhelmsen, who was an administrative assistant for the Wildcat football program while Rodriguez was its head coach from 2012-17, stated in her claim that Rodriguez subjected her to assault and sexual harassment. Wilhelmsen and her husband also lay claim against Rodriguez for slander and defamation.
Rodriguez, a native of Grant Town, W.Va., who played (1981-84) and coached (2001-07) at West Virginia University, was fired by Arizona on Jan. 2.
He recently responded to the latest claims.
“I am aware of the amended complaint and the absolutely false claims,” the 54-year-old Rodriguez said in a statement released via Twitter. “My family and I are eager for our side of the story to be told. The truth will come out, and the plaintiffs’ motives will be plain to see.
“It is important to remember that there was an extensive investigation into the matter that found no wrongdoing by me. Additionally, I took an independent polygraph test that confirmed I been have truthful throughout the investigation.”
“My family and I are thankful for all of your continued support,” concluded Rodriguez, who holds a record of 163-119-2 as a college head coach and was 43-35 in his six seasons at Arizona. “We are responding with respect to the legal process. As you can imagine we are eager for the facts to come out because the truth is on our side. We are aware of the amended complaint.”
While the second claim lists Rodriguez and the University of Arizona as defendants, it also mentions by name several athletic department employees who were part of the alleged hostile work environment that Rodriguez “created and fostered.”
According to the Arizona Daily State, those employees include:
- Former UA recruiting coordinator and general manager Matt Dudek, who Wilhelmsen told about an incident in which Rodriguez called her into his office and “grasped” his private area while carrying on a conversation, and had previously had “several conversations about the sexual harassment and the hostile work environment created by Rodriguez.” The claim says that Dudek witnessed such behavior and heard about it from others.
- Assistant athletic director Mike Parrish, who the claim says Wilhelmsen complained to several times about Rodriguez’s harassment. “While sympathetic to her situation,” Parrish failed to act, saying “we can’t afford those kinds of problems right now.” Parrish worked under Rodriguez at West Virginia and Michigan before following him to the UA.
- Senior associate athletic director Mike Ketcham, who would not help Wilhelmsen facilitate a transfer to another department within the university and later acknowledged that he “generally knew that Rodriguez had harassed her.”
- Staff analyst Dusty Rutledge, who made a comment to Rodriguez about Wilhelmsen using her sexuality to raise funds.
Use the link below to read the original claim against Rodriguez.