Photo: Elaine Thompson, Associated Press
A former Cal women’s basketball player filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday, alleging negligence on behalf of the university’s regents that resulted in her being sexually assaulted by an athletic-department employee.
As first reported by ESPN, Layshia Clarendon of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream — who played at Cal from 2009 through ’13 — claims that Mohamed Muqtar assaulted her when she was a freshman. Muqtar is also a defendant in the suit.
“Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected,” the university said in a statement. “Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”
According to the ESPN story, Clarendon — then 18 — said she accompanied Muqtar to his apartment, where she says he followed her into a bathroom and assaulted her.
“I want the shame to not be my own anymore,” Clarendon told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” when asked why she had decided — nearly a decade later — to file a lawsuit. “I want the shame to fall on him, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”
ESPN reported that a second athlete it had interviewed also claimed Muqtar had acted inappropriately, but that she did not want her name to be used because she had yet to tell her family about the incidents.
Muqtar, 61, is a Cal grad and has been part of the athletic department for at least 25 years.
When reached by ESPN, Muqtar reportedly declined comment.
Jennifer Bandlow, a partner at the Cochran Firm, which represents Clarendon, told ESPN: “The days of men in power, sexually assaulting women for their own personal gratification and without any fear of consequence, are over. What happened to Layshia is reprehensible and disgusting and should not happen to any woman ever again.”
Cal made its only Final Four appearance in Clarendon’s senior season, losing in the semifinals to national runner-up Lousiville.
Clarendon was a WNBA All-Star reserve this season. She was traded to Atlanta in 2016 after three seasons with Indiana.