LSU president ripped for Madison Brooks ‘victim blaming’ after student’s alleged rape, death
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana State University president’s comments after sophomore Madison Brooks was allegedly raped and later died were blasted as “victim blaming” and “disgusting” by student groups and a student’s family member.
LSU President William Tate IV’s email to students focused on curtailing underage drinking in Baton Rouge, Louisiana bars near the campus, like Reggie’s, which is a popular watering hole for students that was shut down by the state earlier this week.
He did not mention Reggie’s by name, but that is where Brooks, 19, had been earlier in the night before she died.
Brooks and the four men she was with – three of whom are underage – were served alcohol the night of Jan. 15, according to court documents, before she was allegedly raped by two of them and dropped off on the side of a nearby highway where she was fatally struck by a car.
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The College Democrats of LSU and Feminists in Action sent a letter to Tate, which was obtained by G3 Box News Digital, that said his action plan “falls short” of consoling a grieving and “fearful” student body.
“The student body finds itself sickened by this attempt to victim blame and further ignore the overwhelming violence, particularly sexual violence, we face as students,” the student groups wrote. “Instead, you chose to reinforce rape culture on our campus and in the greater East Baton Rouge community.
“While students are grieving the loss of our peer and fearing for our safety and well-being, your administration directs its attention to the underage consumption of alcohol. This response is inexcusable.”
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Tate’s message was “directed at perpetrators and establishments that enable them to weaponize alcohol against our students,” said Cody Worsham, the interim vice president of LSU’s Office of Communications and University Relations.
“The subsequent actions of the ATC on Tuesday have already helped us enact real change, and the justice system will handle the accused,” said Worsham, referring to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s emergency suspension of Reggie’s.
“Honoring Madison’s life requires us to take every possible step to protect students,” he told G3 Box News Digital. “Coming down hard on bars that are serving minors in our community is one of many strategies the President is proposing. We invite the entire Baton Rouge community to join us as we unite against all forms of violence and develop further strategies toward its prevention.”
LSU bills itself as an elite university with a reputation for excellence, where the cost of attendance can top $50,000 a year.
The student-run organizations were not the only ones who were perturbed by Tate’s original email.
Amy Glenn, who said her goddaughter is an LSU student who was beaten and tased by a random attacker near Reggie’s in 2021, told G3 Box News Digital in an exclusive interview that the university’s response to Brooks’ death – and other crimes around the bars – has been “disgusting.”
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“There’s a total lack of acknowledging that LSU has a responsibility here,” Glenn said. “Reggie’s, a dive bar, is to blame? Maybe at some level they are, but where (in Tate’s email) is there anything that LSU is doing to help?
“While I agree that this is going to take a group of people, why is LSU not the head of this? They are calling on Baton Rouge businesses and citizens? How about campus police and BR police? What are they doing? Calling a meeting and passing blame?”
Glenn said it’s not all on LSU and its administration. The bar hotspot for students called Tigerland is about a mile from campus and a five- to 15-minute walk back to students’ housing.
The area is populated by several bars, a couple of mini-marts, a liquor store and smoke shop, but it’s technically municipal property and not an official extension of LSU, although Glenn wants to see it treated as such.
The main campus is outfitted with several emergency blue call buttons, but there are not any in Tigerland, which has virtually no streetlights, no sidewalks and has become populated by outside agitators.
Brooks died in the early morning hours on Jan. 15, when it was pouring rain.
That night, the area was packed like it was during the heart of LSU football season, which reigns king in town, Kurt Mikesell told G3 Box News Digital in an exclusive interview.
Mikesell, who owns a private driving service, moonlights as an Uber driver and navigated through the chaos the night Brooks died. He’s been using Uber as a side hustle for years and has seen the “wild, spring break-like atmosphere” firsthand.
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To protect students who are walking home during bedlam, Glenn wants to see better lighting and emergency boxes installed along the walking route and sidewalks.
“The blame isn’t all on LSU, but sadly this has happened before and will happen again and again until there are large widespread safety precautions taken,” Glenn said. “There is no possible way the university can claim that they don’t know where students go to hang out and drink or where the majority of them live.”
The LSU administration referenced a plan in the works in an email to G3 Box News Digital, but as of Thursday afternoon did not have details that can be released.
Going back to the student organizations’ message to Tate, they asked that he and his administration prioritize sexual violence rather than underage drinking.
“While we agree that local bars and businesses, specifically in Tigerland, need to do more to protect their patrons, we call on you to provide a succinct analysis of how the age of the victim and perpetrators are relevant to this goal,” the student organizations wrote in their letter.
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“We are glad you are outraged, but insist that you direct this energy to fix the sexual violence our community faces instead of using alcohol as a scapegoat,” the groups said.
The three adult suspects arrested in Brooks’ case have been released from the Baton Rouge jail, records show.
Kaivon Washington, the 18-year-old suspect charged with third-degree rape, posted $150,000 bond and was released from Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office lock-up on Thursday, records show.
Casen Carver, 18, and 28-year-old Everett Lee, both of whom were charged with being principles to third-degree rape, posted a combined $125,000 bond and were released on Tuesday. Lee is Washington’s uncle, records show.
The second third-degree rape suspect, a 17-year-old whose identity has not been released, is not due in court until February.
In Louisiana, third-degree rape involves sexual intercourse that “is deemed to be without the lawful consent of a victim,” according to state law.
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Visitation and funeral services for Brooks will be held in Covington, Louisiana, on Friday, Feb. 3.