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Cal basketball star sues over sex assault

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A University of California at Berkeley athletic department spokesman said Thursday that university officials have now seen and are reviewing a copy of a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former campus basketball star.

Layshia Clarendon, who played at Cal from 2009 to 2013, filed the civil lawsuit against athletic department student services director Mohamed Muqtar and the UC regents in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Clarendon is now a guard with the Atlanta Dream in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

Athletic department spokesman Herb Benenson said Thursday, “The university is reviewing the complaint,” and also confirmed that Muqtar is currently on leave.

Clarendon’s lawsuit alleges Muqtar used his position to develop one-to-one relationships with her and other student athletes and to take them out for coffee or dinner.

It alleges, “Given this freedom and lack of oversight, Muqtar used his position of power and authority to sexually harass and batter numerous young student athletes attending Berkeley.” The lawsuit does not identify any other alleged victims.

Clarendon claims that during her freshman year in 2009-10, when she was 18, she came to view Muqtar as a mentor and father figure.

One evening during that year, the lawsuit alleges, he invited her to his apartment to watch a jazz concert video. When she excused herself to use the bathroom, he allegedly followed her to the bathroom and sexually assaulted her, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit includes claims against Muqtar and the regents for sexual battery and emotional distress and a claim against the regents alone for negligent training, supervision and retention of Muqtar.

It says that Clarendon initially suppressed the memory of the alleged assault and did not become aware of her emotional injuries until last year, when she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The injuries include severe mental pain, sexual flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety, the lawsuit claims. It seeks financial compensation from Muqtar and the university as well as a punitive award against Muqtar.

Muqtar, 61, has worked for the Athletic Department since 1992 and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1987, according his LinkedIn profile.

Benenson 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.”

He said that under university procedures, complaints against staff members are not handled by the Athletic Department on its own, but rather are “referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them,” and that the Athletic Department works in cooperation with those other departments.

Benenson said:

“Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected.”

Clarendon on Wednesday retweeted a reference to an ESPN article describing the lawsuit.

She tweeted:

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