A ninth alleged victim has come forward claiming that former University of South Alabama women’s volleyball coach Alexis Meeks-Rydell sexually harassed her and subjected her to physical and emotional abuse when she was a member of the team.
Cassadi Colbert, a former American volleyball player, also claimed that university officials knew about the harassment and abuse but did nothing to stop it in her lawsuit filed late last month before the federal court of Mobile.
The university could not be reached for comment.
Colbert’s lawsuit claims the former volleyball coach, who quit in 2019, forced her to hug her and tell her she loved him.
The lawsuit also alleges that Meeks-Rydell would text players late at night to convene “breakfast clubs” as early as 4 a.m., where the coach would force the players “to run and do other exercises. until players vomit, pass out or cry. due to the inability to continue.
The “breakfast clubs” caused Colbert “extreme stress, anxiety, insomnia and distress,” the lawsuit continues.
When the team traveled for games, Meeks-Rydell would pinch Colbert and other players’ butts as they exited the team bus.
The coach also blamed the players for his marital problems, losing his job and being diagnosed with cancer, according to the allegations.
Colbert claimed she passed on a full scholarship to the University of West Alabama to join Meeks-Rydell in the United States after the coach said she needed her to “change the culture” in the southern Alabama.
But instead, Meeks-Rydell “used physical, mental and emotional abuse to build a culture of blind obedience and made the plaintiff the face of the college volleyball team culture.” , according to the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, several U.S. officials named in the lawsuit, including athletic director Joel Erdmann, senior associate athletic director Jinni Frisbey, associate athletic director Chris Moore, and former volleyball assistants Rob Chilcoat and Patricia Gandalfo “had the power to to take corrective action in the event of misconduct. or unlawful conduct,” but no, the complaint states, adding that several players’ parents mentioned the allegations to Erdmann within three months of Meeks-Rydell’s hiring.
In August, former players Rachael DeMarcus and Alexis Silver filed a lawsuit against Meeks-Rydell for sexual harassment and physical and emotional abuse.
This complaint was amended in December to add six other former players: Caitlin Tipping, Meaghan Jones, Hannah Kazee, Hannah Johnson and two unnamed individuals, referred to as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2.
The first lawsuit alleged that Meeks-Rydell created a climate of fear and intimidation within the volleyball team. She routinely overtrained players and forced them to train or play while injured – including concussions and asthma attacks – according to court documents.
Meeks-Rydell was hired as an assistant coach by Purdue University in Fort Wayne in June 2021, then placed on administrative leave in September, when the first lawsuit was filed. By the end of December, Meeks-Rydell was no longer a school assistant; the university declined to say whether she was fired or resigned.