Multiple federal agencies investigated claims that former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight groped and verbally sexually harassed several female employees when he gave a speech at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in July 2015, according to newly-released documents.
Knight was invited to the NGA, a Department of Defense agency that analyzes imagery of the Earth’s surface in order to serve intelligence operations, as part of the Director’s Distinguished Speaker Series. An investigation by the NGA into how he conducted himself during his appearance found five female employees who said that Knight touched them inappropriately—including allegedly swatting two women on the buttocks, sliding his hands along another woman’s hips and massaging another’s shoulders—or said things that made them feel uncomfortable.
A government investigation into claims of sexual harassment from Knight’s visit was first reported by the Washington Post three weeks ago. Deadspin has now received the NGA case report through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Ten days after Knight’s visit to the NGA, the agency’s inspector general was tipped off by an anonymous source who claimed that Knight had “used offensive profanity” during his speech and “groped five women,” noting specifically that he had slapped a “senior woman ... on [her] butt” and “fondled a woman’s breast.” The case report states that the office of the inspector general then reviewed photos and videos of Knight’s visit—finding evidence of his profanity, but not sexual harassment—before interviewing relevant employees.
One female employee said that “she felt his hand on her buttocks” as she told Knight where to stand and how to use the microphone before he was scheduled to go on stage. A fellow employee saw and said, “Oh my God, he hit you on your ass.”
A different woman, who rode in the car that picked Knight up from the train station, said that the famed coach reached up and “massaged her shoulder” while she was in the passenger’s seat and he was seated behind her. He asked if she was an athlete and when she said that she had been in high school, he responded “Do you want to know how I knew? I watched you from behind and saw how you walked in those heels.” She said that he later put his hands on her shoulders “like in a conga line.”
A third female employee said that Knight joked about wanting to hug her and “swatted her on the buttocks.” She later overheard him telling NGA director Robert Cardillo—who had been responsible for inviting Knight—that he’d “rather walk with” her than him, before coming up behind her and putting his hands on her shoulders as they walked.
A fourth woman testified that Knight had put his hands around her shoulders while taking a picture and then “continued to hug her as they walked away,” which she described as inappropriate. He later tried to hug her again, but she walked ahead. A fifth woman said that Knight “put his arm tightly around her shoulder” during conversation, leaving her to try “unsuccessfully to pull away.” Later, as she was walking away, he slid his hand “down the side of her body and over her hip.”
The investigation also uncovered this tidbit—an interview with someone who claimed that Knight told a deaf man to stand up and called him “uncoachable” when he did not:
As part of the investigation, the NGA’s office of the inspector general asked Cardillo why he had invited Knight, who has a long record of being physically violent and otherwise crude and insulting, to speak to the federal combat support and intelligence agency he has led since 2014. (Knight’s Wikipedia page, while certainly not a definitive or authoritative source, has so many instances to detail under “Criticism and Controversy” that it requires subsections for each decade since the 1970s.) Cardillo responded that he while he was “aware that Mr. Knight would likely use language that some would find offensive,” he ultimately “weighed that against the positive leadership and motivational lessons that Mr. Knight could provide.” He said that he had not heard of any sexual harassment during Knight’s visit, but he acknowledged that one part of Knight’s speech—a story about “putting a telephone up the ass of an operator”—was over the line.
The NGA did not come to a conclusion with the investigation. After gathering the above evidence, the office of the inspector general sent its findings to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, which in turn reported them to the FBI for potential criminal investigation of its own.
The NGA’s investigation can be found in full below, with identifying information of select individuals redacted by the agency: