University Police Chief Out of Job Over Comments on Sexual Assault to Football Players

Utah State University Police Chief Earl Morris resigned over comments on sexual assault to football players, saying that some religious women say sex was not consensual because they regret it.

Morris' resignation on Thursday was confirmed by the university to The Salt Lake Tribune. The publication acquired a recording of Morris' comments regarding women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The day before he was placed on administrative leave.

The school called his comments "reprehensible and unacceptable," and said it was investigating the comments, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"The leader of the university's police department must have the trust of the campus community," Utah State said in a statement Wednesday.

Morris, who was chief since July 2019, told the football players that Latter-day Saint women could tell their religious leaders they didn't consent to sex, saying that if the players were accused of assault, authorities would have to investigate and "the cards are stacked against you."

According to the recording, he, along with the assistant police chief for the city of Logan, where the university is located, gave football players their personal cellphone numbers to call should they need advice and had complaints regarding officer treatment.

The university said Morris' recorded comments "are not consistent with the university's values or the trainings provided on sexual misconduct at Utah State, nor do they reflect USU's efforts to prevent sexual misconduct and reduce barriers to reporting."

When reached by the Associated Press, Morris declined to comment.

Utah State University, Earl Morris, Comments, Resignation
Utah State University called Police Chief Earl Morris' comments “reprehensible and unacceptable,” and said it was investigating the comments, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. In this photo, the footballs on the field before a game on October 27, 2007. dee Welsch/Getty Images

The recording was also described in a lawsuit filed against the university this week by a female student who said the school had mishandled her sexual-assault report involving a football player despite promising to improve in the wake of a previous scandal involving a school athlete.

The school's previous scandal involved Torrey Green, who was convicted in 2019 of sexually assaulting six women between 2013 and 2015 when he was on the university football team. Four women reported to police being assaulted by Green, but no charges were filed until after the Tribune published a story about the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice later found Utah State often closed cases involving football players after minimal investigation. The school promised to improve, but the student who sued this week said her 2019 sexual assault allegation against a different football player was still mishandled.

She said in the lawsuit the university continues to protect its football team and brushes aside women who report assaults by players, assertions that run counter to the chief's comments about investigations on the recording.

Utah State, for its part, says it has made progress in the last five years, including mandating prevention training for students and additional education for student-athletes.

The recording surfaced shortly before Utah State is set to face Oregon State in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Dangerous Football Drill Sparks Outrage
A Utah State female student said the school mishandled her sexual-assault report involving a football player despite promising to improve in the wake of a previous scandal involving a school athlete. Above, practice equipment on a football field. Elijah-Lovkoff/Getty Images