A University of Arizona field athlete receives nearly $1 million in abuse settlement.
The state of Arizona announced a settlement with Baillie Gibson for nearly a million dollars. The state paid $999,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the former track and field athlete Gibson against the University of Arizona (UA) and her former coach, Craig Carter. The agreements came after the state spent almost three times that amount defending its case.
Carter was sentenced to five years in prison in May 2018 after a jury convicted him of two felony counts of aggravated assault stemming from a 2015 incident in his office at McKale Center. Carter admitted to UA police that he grabbed Gibson by the throat while holding a box cutter in his other hand and threatened to cut her face. In the days after, Carter called, texted, and emailed Gibson dozens of times making threats to harm her. The two had been involved in a years-long sexual relationship Gibson said was not consensual and was a result of her being blackmailed.
Gibson sued in November 2015, claiming school officials knew about the relationship but failed to step in. She originally asked to settle for $2.5 million. A counterclaim by Carter and his wife was filed in March 2016 alleging “intentional infliction of emotional distress by Gibson.” The couple later sued Gibson’s attorney, Lynne Cadigan, for defamation. The settlement between the school and Gibson includes a “no admission of liability” clause.
UA issued the following statement: “The University of Arizona prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, which includes sexual violence, and we widely publicize resources and avenues available for students and employees who need help and support. In this case, when we knew, we acted. As soon as the student athlete informed us of Carter’s actions, we immediately turned that information over to law enforcement and began the process of terminating him. University staff then worked with Ms. Gibson and her advocate on accommodations for her education and well-being. We take great pride in working with students to see them reach their potential. We hope the closure of this case will help Ms. Gibson move forward and we wish her a successful life.”
As an employee of the state, Carter’s defense was paid for by the taxpayer-funded Arizona Department of Administration’s Risk Management Division. As of March, the state had paid $2.65 million to defend Carter, the UA, and former athletic director Greg Byrne. Byrne was dismissed from the case in 2017.
Of the private law firms involved in the case, the Tucson firm of Munger, Chadwick and Denker billed the state $1.48 million for work performed through Jan. 31. Rusing, Lopez and Lizardi was hired by the UA in October 2017 and for work performed through March 6, the firm had billed the state $1.08 million. Thorpe Shwer, the firm defending Byrne, billed the state $87,120. The last several months’ worth of bills were not included, so the cost is likely to be even more.
Cadigan waived her attorney’s fees so Gibson could get “fair compensation.” She said, “There’s something wrong with a system that pays more in attorney’s fees than compensating victims of a crime.”