LISTEN: USU police chief steps down after ‘reprehensible’ comments about LDS women
Dec 16, 2021, 10:26 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 1:43 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – USU’s Police Chief resigned Thursday amid revelations that he warned football players that Latter-day Saint women may falsely report sexual assault.
The KSL investigators first reported on the filing of a federal lawsuit highlighting secret audio recordings Tuesday.
The university confirmed Earl Morris’ resignation Thursday in a prepared statement.
UPDATE: USU Police Chief Earl Morris has resigned after a federal lawsuit highlighted secret audio recordings revealing Morris warned football players LDS women might lie about whether sex was consensual. @KSLInvestigates @KSL5TV https://t.co/pv4mdJTuWM
— Daniella Rivera KSL (@DaniellaKSL) December 16, 2021
The college had placed Morris on administrative leave Wednesday, calling his comments “reprehensible and unacceptable.”
“The leader of the university’s police department must have the trust of the campus community,” a statement from the university reads.
In audio of the meeting between football players and police in August, USU Police Chief Earl Morris is heard telling the team that they live in a “Mormon community” and women may regret having sex after the fact. He is heard saying that may motivate them to lie to faith leaders, a comment met by laughter.
“Often times it’s easier to say, ‘No, no, no, that wasn’t consensual,’” he said. “Be dang sure of who it is that you’re having consensual sexual relations with.”
The recordings of Morris’ statements to football players, obtained by KSL, are part of a lawsuit from a Utah State University student who says the school mishandled her report of rape.
Kaytri Flint sued the university Tuesday, alleging it has not made good on its promises to do better after a 2020 U.S. Department of Justice investigation found reports of sexual assault went unaddressed on the Logan campus.
In response to the lawsuit, the university outlined the steps it’s taken and those it plans to take to improve its handling of sexual misconduct. Those include requiring training on the issues for students, the hiring of a victim advocate and detective last year to focus on sexual crimes and domestic violence.
The school said it is committed to making sure members of its community treat each other with respect and receive fair treatment.
University spokeswoman Amanda DeRito said earlier in the week that the chief’s comments were not in line with the university’s values or the trainings it conducts.
The Logan campus recorded five reports of rape on school grounds in 2020, compared to nine the previous year, according to the university’s 2021 campus crime report. There were 4 reports of fondling last year, down from 24 in 2019.
Capt. Kent Harris, a 12-year member of the USU police force, with a master’s degree in social work, will replace Morris as interim police chief, the university said.
Morris previously was the director of public safety and risk management at Brigham Young University Hawaii. Before that, he was a deputy commissioner for the Utah Department of Public Safety.
KSL’s efforts to reach Morris have been unsuccessful.
His resignation took effect immediately, according to terms of his separation agreement with the university. KSL obtained the document through a public records request.
According to the agreement, USU will pay him a lump sum of about $37,000 by January 4, along with an unspecified payout for up to 30 days of unused leave time.
The agreement stipulates that Morris must cooperate with the school “in connection with matters arising out of the employee’s service to USU” for another 30 days.
He’ll retain medical benefits through next year.
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.