Rich Rodriguez’s attorneys say sexual harassment claims are part of extortion attempt

Attorneys for fired Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez have responded to a notice of claim filed by a former assistant, and say her allegations of sexual harassment are part of an extortion attempt.

The lawyers representing Rodriguez say former University of Arizona administrative assistant Melissa Wilhelmsen’s allegations of sexual harassment, which were part of a $7.5 million claim filed in January, are fabricated in an attempt to extort the coach, according to a report from ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura. Rodriguez was fired by the university amid the allegations, which included graphic claims of workplace misconduct and a fostering a hostile workplace.

Wilhelmsen’s legal representation added the university and an additional $1 million to the claim.

Shortly after the notice of claim was filed and Rodriguez was fired, the coach’s attorneys were reportedly preparing to sue Wilhelmsen for extortion. This appears to be the next step on the path to doing so.

More from Bonagura on the response to Wilhelmsen’s claim, which is part of the process of filing a suit in the state of Arizona:

The response says Jimenez contacted Rodriguez’s attorneys twice in early November to propose a multi-million-dollar payout for the woman so she would not publicly disclose several allegations of sexual harassment, his extramarital affair and so that she would not cooperate with the university’s investigation into her claims.

In an email to Rodriguez’s attorney dated Nov. 8, Jimenez wrote that “at no time did I ever suggest that this matter could be resolved in the ‘the $2million range’. I chose my words very precisely when I told you that I did not have a number, but that it would take ‘multiple millions of dollars’ to resolve this matter.”

Rodriguez’s attorneys treated this as an extortion demand and contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI in Tucson, Arizona, the response says.

On Dec. 10, Jimenez again reached out to Rodriguez’s counsel with a demand letter for a settlement of all claims for $7.5 million. “This offer expires as of 5PM Arizona time on December 26, 2017,” the letter said.

Arizona was scheduled to play its bowl game in Santa Clara, California, on Dec. 27, and Rodriguez’s attorneys said the timing of the threat was designed to generate maximum publicity.

Rodriguez has admitted to having an extramarital affair, but denied the other allegations made by Wilhelmsen in her notice of claim. Rodriguez’s attorneys included multiple signed accounts from Arizona staffers who contradict the claims made by Wilhelmsen, per Bonagura’s report. It appears as though this situation is a long way from being resolved.

The post Rich Rodriguez’s attorneys say sexual harassment claims are part of extortion attempt appeared first on Diehards.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X