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Playing the ‘waiting game’

The Temple News revisits the case of Ebony Moore, a former athlete suing Temple for $10 million.

A little more than a year ago, Ebony Moore stood inside the Genova Burns law office in Camden, New Jersey, waiting to be deposed.

Barred from bringing family members because they were named as witnesses, Moore stood alone on Jan. 9, 2015 until she was ushered to a room. As she opened the door, her eyes met former university track & field coach Eric Mobley, who sat at the conference table near a window.

After seven hours of questioning, Moore was free to leave Genova Burns and return to her hotel room.

“I remember walking out of there thinking, ‘I could go to hell for a few hours because that is what it felt like,” Moore said.

Mobley resigned as the university’s track & field coach in June 2014 after being at the helm of the program for six years. He, along with former Senior Associate Athletic Director Kristen Foley—who was hired as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Lafayette College in July 2015—are co-defendants in a lawsuit involving Moore, a former thrower on the team.

The Temple News made multiple attempts to contact Mobley and Foley for comment last week. Neither could be reached for comment.

Moore had the decision on whether she wanted to represent herself or hire a lawyer. But as the deadline to choose closed in, she decided to continue without one.

“When I graduated, I tried to move on and I couldn’t move on,” Moore said. “Upon the statute of limitations, I had to make a decision if I was going to wonder my entire life or if I was going to get closure and make the university have some accountability for, not only how they treated me, but for how they treated other athletes as well.”

Along with representing herself in the case, Moore is taking classes at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lilburn, Georgia. She said she is taking science classes to strengthen her GPA after her “breakdown” affected her average at Temple.

Moore also took the MCAT’s—a national standardized test designed to measure medical school applicants’ knowledge of science concepts, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and writing ability—on Saturday with her twin sister, Amber. Moore said she wants to be a doctor.

The Temple News previously reported in Aug. 2014 that Moore was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by Melissa Crookshank, M.D. at Temple University Counseling Services, based in Tuttleman Hall.

Moore, however, was diagnosed in June 2015 with “Persistent Depressive Disorder with Anxious Distress, Moderate”, “Panic Disorder” and “Adult Psychological Abuse by Non-Spouse or Non-Partner” by Mark D. Ackerman, Ph.D after undergoing five psychological evaluations, the results of which Moore provided to The Temple News.

“I’m very reclusive still,” Moore said. “I’m apprehensive of going out into public and making new friends. But I’m working on them.”

According to federal court records, Moore filed a motion for summary judgment of her case in May 2015. The motion states several employees who were at the university have left since the initially filed a lawsuit in 2013.

“President Hart has since left Temple University,” the motion reads. “Valerie Harrison is no longer with the university. Bill Bradshaw, the former athletic director, is no longer with the university. Defendant Foley is no longer the athletic director over track and field and Defendant Mobley has since been fired from his position as head coach of track and field.”

The Temple News previously reported Mobley resigned as the university’s track and field coach in June 2014.

The motion also cites several pieces of evidence why Moore was abused during her time at the university, including an email from Emmanuel Freeland, who competed on the track team with her from 2009-11.

The letter, in which Freeland criticizes Mobley for his “ill treatment” while participating with team, states Freeland had attempted to meet with Mobley to discuss any potential issues.

“In closing, I only wrote this letter because you never set up this meeting,” the email reads. “I would have said all of this to your face like a man, but since you couldn’t set up a time for us to talk I had to get this off my chest so I could move on and have closure so you knew how I felt about this situation. I’m just disappointed because I just thought we had a better relationship than what it really was.”

“Pain and the Game”—The Temple News’ seven-month investigation detailing stories of abuse and neglect among several other track and field team members when Mobley was coach—was also included in the motion.

Moore also claimed the university improperly used Valerie Harrison as a panel member in the NCAA athletic aid appeals process.

“According to Temple University, the appeals process is to consist of a panel of “three (3) University faculty members or administrators outside of the Athletics Department as determined by the director of student financial services”, the motion reads. “Those three members were present (Marylouise Esten, Johanne Johnston and Jeffrey Montague) but Valerie Harrison was also present and participated avidly as a panel member as well.”

Moore—who sometimes suffers panic attacks in the shower—said she is depressed, at times, and has been prescribed Alprazolam.

Eric Mobley (right), resigned as university track & field coach in June 2014. | EDWARD BARRENECHEA TTN FILE PHOTO

Eric Mobley (right), resigned as university track & field coach in June 2014. | EDWARD BARRENECHEA TTN FILE PHOTO

“Sometimes i look in the mirror and relive everything and how I got to this point,” Moore said. “It’s kind of hard, but I’m still trying.

On Dec. 5, 2015, Temple Compliance tweeted, “Student-athletes, don’t forget to ‘Stress Less’ this Wednesday!” This event, hosted by the Compliance and Student-Affairs Office, was designed to help students rewind and relax with chair massages, refreshment and therapy dogs.

This events were not around when Moore was at Temple from 2009-12 and is one of the many changes that the former discus thrower has noticed.

“The department seems to be more transparent,” Moore said. “They are firing coaches now. They are investigating claims of other student athletes. The track team now has a new coach, and they seem to be happy with him.”

In October, Mobley and Foley filed a reply—under attorneys James Bucci and Casey Langel—to Moore’s summary judgement. In it, they state that Mobley’s Title IX claims are by obstructed by the statute of limitations.

“It is undisputed that Plaintiff’s remaining claims under Title IX (Counts III – V ) … are all time-barred since they are based on conduct alleged to have occurred more than two years before Plaintiff filed the Complaint on July 29, 2013,” the document reads.

They also claim that Moore’s argument that the Appeals Panel of the university discriminated against her “fails to survive summary judgment.”

“Plaintiff does not attempt to present any facts to support a claim that the members of the Appeals Panel discriminated or retaliated against her, nor can she. Instead, Plaintiff simply disagrees with the Appeal Panel’s decision because it … was not favorable to her.”

When reached at his Camden office last week, Bucci declined to comment on the case.

Since that filing, the judge in the case, Mitchell S. Goldberg, issued a civil action in December that Moore’s motion for summary judgment is “denied without prejudice”—meaning the case is on hold for now, but can be re-visited in the future and may still head to a trial.

A university spokesman told The Temple News that the university denies any claims made by Moore in the case.

“Temple denies that it has caused Ms. Moore harm or acted inappropriately and believes the Court has basis to dismiss this case based on the filings,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “In the event the motions are denied, it is likely a date will be set for trial.”

Moore said she’s unsure of when the next step in the case may be.

“Its pretty much wide open,” she said. “They don’t tell you how long. … It’s just a waiting game.”

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” Moore added. “Every time I get a letter from the courthouse I think, ‘This is it.” But I want to know.”

Whether Moore wins her case or not, she is happy with her decision to pursue legal action because of the positive effect for the individuals that came to the university after her.

“Somebody has to do it,” Moore said. “Now student athletes, especially at Temple University, will probably be less apprehensive. I did some things and nothing came of it. I definitely think the future student athletes will benefit from this. It’s been tough, but I’m glad that I did it.”

The university spokesman said Temple will continue to let the court decide the case.

“While it is not typically the university’s practice to address matters currently in litigation, it is important to note that Temple denies any wrongdoing in this matter and will let the judicial process decide this matter,” the spokesman said in an email.

Steve Bohnel and Michael Guise can be reached at news@temple-news.com or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.

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    One comment on “Playing the ‘waiting game’

    1. trackowl on said:

      That girl is so dramatic, looking for a payday.

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