Purdue Fort Wayne volleyball coach accused of harassing, assaulting ex-players in federal lawsuit

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — An assistant coach on the Purdue Fort Wayne women’s volleyball team has been sued in federal court, accused of sexually harassing and physically assaulting two of her players at an Alabama university she coached at previously.

Alexis Meeks-Rydell

Alexis Meeks-Rydell is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama Mobile Division by Rachael Damarcus and Alexis Silver.

The women, who played under Meeks-Rydell while she was the head coach of the University of South Alabama women’s volleyball team, allege “a pattern and practice of blatant sexual harassment and sexual and other physical and emotional assault” by Meeks-Rydell. The harassment and assault took place during the 2019-2020 school year, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit alleges a “relentless and pervasive pattern of harassment and physical, psychological, and emotional abuse” that included “inappropriate touching, including unwanted pinching of Plaintiffs’ buttocks, and overtraining and coercing players to continue to practice or play while injured.” Meeks-Rydell also used “psychological and emotional manipulation and intimidation,” the lawsuit alleges.

Damarcus and Silver said the harassment and assault forced them to abandon their athletic and academic careers at the University of South Alabama.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, costs and attorneys’ fees, statutory damages, and equitable relief.

Meeks-Rydell, a Leo native, spent two seasons at South Alabama before joining the staff at Purdue Fort Wayne in June. She played collegiately at IUPUI.

Purdue Fort Wayne Athletic Director Kelley Hartley Hutton said Meeks-Rydell has been placed on administrative leave while the university reviews the matter. She offered no other comment.

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