Woman files additional multi-million dollar claim against Rich Rodriguez

Sam Cooper

Another claim has been filed against former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.

Melissa Wilhelmsen, the woman whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Rodriguez led to the coach’s dismissal, filed an additional claim on Friday. In the new claim, which also includes Rodriguez’s wife and the University of Arizona, Wilhelmsen and her husband are seeking $8.5 million on top of the requested $7.5 million from the initial claim, which was filed Dec. 29.

Wilhelmsen, Rodriguez’s former administrative assistant, says she was sexually harassed by Rodriguez, claiming that Rodriguez inappropriately grabbed and touched her. She also said Rodriguez, who was fired Jan. 2, made her keep his extramarital affair a secret, including an incident where she acted as a buffer between Rodriguez’s wife and his girlfriend, who were both on the sideline for a game. Rodriguez admitted to the affair.

The new claim stems from comments Rodriguez and his wife are alleged to have made after his firing.

From the Arizona Daily Star:

The document says that Wilhelmsen and her husband also have claims against Rodriguez for slander, defamation and false light, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from Rodriguez and his wife’s conduct after his firing — including “statements to football players at a team meeting on January 9, 2018.” Rich and Rita Rodriguez spoke to the players in a team meeting run by interim head coach Marcel Yates on that date. It was not immediately clear if any additional legal action had been filed.

Rich Rodriguez was fired by Arizona on Jan. 2 after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Rich Rodriguez was fired by Arizona on Jan. 2 after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

With respect to the university, which hired former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin as Rodriguez’s replacement, the new claim says Arizona is “vicariously liable” for Rodriguez’s alleged conduct. It lists multiple employees who were part of the hostile work environment and were aware of Rodriguez’s actions, says Wilhelmsen.

Rodriguez responded to the latest claim with a statement released on his Twitter account.

“I am aware of the amended complaint and the absolutely false claims,” the statement says. “My family and I are eager for our side of the story to be told. The truth will come out and the plaintiffs’ motives will be plain to see. It is important to remember that there was an extensive investigation into the matter that found no wrongdoing by me. Additionally, I took an independent polygraph test that confirmed I have been truthful throughout the investigation.”

Per the Star, Wilhelmsen and her husband say in the claim they would settle “all claims” for the requested $8.5 million.