CHARLES TOWN – The former softball coach of Shepherd University has filed a suit against the school, claiming he was forced to resign after sexual harassment allegations.
David Trail filed the suit Aug. 31 against Shepherd University and Karl Wolf, the school’s athletic director, saying he was discriminated against and that the school improperly handled the allegations.
Attorney Harry Waddell filed the suit in Jefferson Circuit Court.
According to the suit, the athletic department received an anonymous complaint from “the entire Shepherd University softball team” containing allegations of sexual harassment.
According to the Martinsburg Journal, the complaint said Trail made players feel uncomfortable after he allegedly massaged their backs and took pictures of them in their swimsuits on a team trip to the beach.
Shepherd University has a written sexual harassment policy that promises an informal and formal process for the resolution of sexual harassment complaints.
Trail claims the school failed to follow the procedures set forth in their sexual harassment policy. The suit also says the school did not conduct an adequate investigation into the anonymous complaints.
According to the suit, on May 18, 2007, Wolf was informed by Matt Poling of the Journal that several members of the team had met with Poling and provided him with the allegations of sexual harassment.
Trail said that after Wolf spoke with Poling, he received a call from Wolf informing him “it was probably time to part ways” and “their backs were against the wall,” the suit says.
The next day, Wolf, assistant athletic director Joan Pope and Alan Perdue, Shepherd’s legal counsel, met with Trail at his home. According to the suit, Trail was told he was not being fired or forced to resign, but his contract would not be renewed. On Monday, May 21, 2007, the school released a statement that announced Trail was retiring.
Trail’s contract was not renewed, and a female coach replaced him.
In the two-count suit, Trail claims he was defamed and discriminated against. He seeks compensation for the humiliation, loss of personal dignity, mental and emotional stress, lost wages and loss of future anticipated earnings.
Trail also seeks general damages, back pay, loss of future earnings, punitive damages and court costs.
Jefferson Circuit Court case number 07-C-313