Several current and former members of the University of Georgia soccer program have been embroiled in legal trouble, but a recent article focusing on one of them «crossed a new line,» the school says.
A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution includes «mistakes, unsubstantiated allegations, innuendo and possibly even fabrication,» the school said Tuesday.
Alan Judd’s story, titled «UGA Soccer Program Rally as Players Accused of Abusing Women», contains «a reckless disregard for the truth and his imposition of a damaging narrative that is unsupported by the facts», says the file.
Michael M. Raeber, the school’s general counsel, says the article’s headline says the show «actively supports» «sexual misconduct.» The author claims that the outlet identified 11 players to remain on the team after reports of violent encounters with women and/or the school, but the school says only two were identified by name and one more was not.
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the university says they attempted to contact Judd and acquire the list of identified players, to which he «refused», citing AJC’s «policy» not to release «unpublished information». However, the school says they have not been given a copy of the policy, and the outlet is actually going against its own code of ethics.
«Even if such a policy exists, the AJC did publish this information,» Raeber said. «Mr. Judd published a full article criticizing the UGA football program for ‘rallying’ on behalf of players accused of abusing women, primarily based on the claim that ’11 players’ remained on the team after be accused. The AJC Newsroom Code of Ethics states that AJC is ‘transparent’ about its ‘news-gathering methods’. But when simply asked to provide a list of the eleven names referred to in the article, Mr. Judd refused.»
Raeber added that he is «sure there are not 11 players» who meet Judd’s claims, nor the three players mentioned, who the school says Judd wrote committed the «most serious» misdeeds, even «fit the description.» .
One of those three players, the school says, was not a member of the team when his allegations came to light, and the other two were suspended and never played for the team again, despite one case being open and the other case, that it was «unlawful surveillance (not sexual assault as Mr. Judd claims)», being dismissed.
The school says Judd wrote about the third athlete who recorded herself having sex with an unconscious woman who was «passed out…drunk.» Judd, according to the school, said Athlens-Clarke County police «strangely» did not charge him with sexual assault. The university says they requested police reports and videos of the alleged incident, the reports were not provided to the outlet, and the videos are «legally exempt from production because their release would violate the personal privacy rights of the complainant in the case.»
«If Mr. Judd obtained the videos and/or supplemental police reports for this case from some other source and reviewed them, then he is knowingly misrepresenting their content. If you have not seen the videos and supplemental police reports, then his version of events is simply made up,» Raeber wrote.
Police, according to the school, said the videos depicted consensual sex, and that the complainant was «engaged and responsive» and «‘actively engaged’ in the sexual activity.» The illegal surveillance charge stemmed from the player being alleged to have recorded activity without consent, but, as mentioned above, that charge was dismissed.
«His repeated public claims that this former player remained on the list after being ‘accused of recording a sex act with a unconscious woman’ are simply false,» the school said.
The school also says Judd arranged quotes from a police interview with 16-year-old recruit Jamaal Jarrett to play into his «false narrative.» The article also says the players received the «blessing» of head coach Kirby Smarts to attend a former player’s bond hearing, but the school said all attendees came voluntarily.
The school later added that this is not the first time Judd has had inaccurate reports.
“The AJC Newsroom Code of Ethics proclaims: ‘We admit our mistakes and we correct them.’ I write today to demand just that: an admission of error and a retraction of the article,» Raeber wrote. «The retraction must be prompt, clearly marked as a retraction, and presented and promoted as prominently and publicly as the original article.»
“AJC prominently promotes its ‘commitment to seek the truth and hold public institutions accountable.’ It further proclaims: «As journalists, we must earn the trust of our audience every day. Our professional integrity is the cornerstone of our credibility. Fairness and transparency must always be the hallmarks of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s journalism.
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«Mr. Judd’s most recent articles fall far short of these standards. Absent the numerous and significant inaccuracies identified in this letter, there is simply no support for the article’s central premise: that the UGA football program supports actively target players accused of abusing women. For the above reasons, we demand AJC’s prompt, clear and conspicuous retraction of the article.»
Georgia won its second straight national championship this past January.
AJC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.