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Woman accuses coach, Kent State officials of ignoring rape allegation

CLEVELAND -- A student and former softball player at Kent State University said in a federal lawsuit Tuesday that her coach tried to cover up allegations the player was raped and that university officials failed to follow school policy and federal law after the woman reported being attacked.

Lauren Kesterson's lawsuit alleged she reported the rape to a school official several days before Karen Linder resigned in August after 19 years as the team's coach. Kesterson then quit the team last fall because of harassment by alumni and university officials who blamed her for Linder's resignation, the suit said.

The suit names Linder and Kent State as defendants. It alleges Kesterson was raped by Linder's son, although Kesterson didn't report the assault to police because she didn't know how to handle what happened to her and because Linder controlled much of her life on the team and at the school, Kesterson's attorney, Subodh Chandra said.

Linder didn't return telephone messages left at her home Tuesday. The son, who has not been charged with a crime and is not a defendant in Kesterson's lawsuit, is listed at the same address. A university spokesman said Tuesday the school doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Kesterson, 21, of Everett Washington, said in the lawsuit that she was a freshman when she was raped in December 2012. She told Linder, and Linder asked her not to tell anyone who didn't already know about the assault, the suit said.

As a senior last fall, Kesterson met with an official in the university's equal opportunity and affirmative action office, hoping to file a formal complaint and asking for a no-contact order with Linder and her son, the suit said. The next day, Kesterson was told a university official stopped the complaint from being filed and denied the no-contact order.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they've been sexually assaulted. In this instance, Kesterson agreed to have her name published.