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Federal judge denies motion to dismiss claims in Temple case of harassment, discrimination

Five charges brought by a former track & field thrower were dismissed, while three remain.

A federal judge denied a motion this week to dismiss claims of harassment, sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination in a civil-action lawsuit brought by a former student-athlete against the university and other officials, likely ensuring that settlement will be reached or trial will be brought against multiple members of the athletic department.

Former track & field thrower Ebony Moore sought $10 million in monetary relief on eight charges in a complaint filed in civil court in June 2013. The complaint named Temple University, track & field coach Eric Mobley and Senior Associate Athletic Director Kristen Foley as defendants.

The ruling, issued Tuesday by Judge Mitchell Goldberg of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, comes the same week as the announcement Thursday that Temple was one of 55 universities nationwide under investigation by the Department of Education for possible Title IX violations in relation to the university’s handling of sexual assault and harassment cases.

Goldberg dismissed counts ­of punitive damages, defamation, intimidation, breach of contract and pain and suffering. The six-page ruling kept charges of harassment, sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.

“These allegations might ultimately amount to nothing, but at this stage they are sufficient to permit Plaintiff’s [sic] pro- se Complaint [sic] to move forward on the theory that Mobley and Foley violated Plaintiff’s [sic] rights under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Goldberg said.

Reached by phone Friday, a Temple athletics spokesman declined to comment.

Moore competed for Temple from 2009-11, when she became one of the team’s top discus throwers and broke a school record while qualifying for multiple postseason events. Moore claims she was subject to bullying, verbal abuse and sexual harassment from members of the track & field team’s coaching staff.

Attempts to notify administrators about the coaching staff’s mistreatment led to Mobley threatening Moore, saying “never contact my f—— boss, or else you will be dismissed from this team,” according to the complaint.

Mobley has been running the men’s and women’s track & field programs since 2008, while Foley has been with the university for nearly two decades. The men’s team will be eliminated this July as part of the university’s December decision to cut sports, but Mobley is expected to return next season to coach the women’s program. Foley oversees the administration of women’s basketball, volleyball, women’s soccer, cross country, fencing, field hockey, men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s tennis, crew, rowing and track & field.

Goldberg dismissed the counts of punitive damages and pain and suffering because they “are not an independent cause of action,” according to the case filing in district court. Goldberg said the intimidation count did not state a claim that monetary relief could be granted.

Moore’s scholarship was revoked and she didn’t return to the team after her junior year.

In the complaint, Moore said she appealed her dismissal in front of an NCAA panel on July 28, 2011 and that members of the athletic department submitted false information about her academic status and GPA.

The breach of contract claim was a result of Temple not renewing Moore’s athletic aid. Goldberg dismissed the claim because the university did not promise renewal in Moore’s athletics financial aid agreement.

Goldberg dismissed the defamation claim because the suit was filed more than one year after the hearing, which is past the statute of limitations.

Joey Cranney and Avery Maehrer can be reached at news@temple-news.com.

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