Senior integrated health studies major Lauren Kesterson, a former Kent State softball player, filed a civil lawsuit alleging she was raped by the son of former softball coach Karen Linder. Kesterson also claims that Linder pressured her not to report the incident. The suit also alleges that Athletic Director Joel Nielsen knew of the rape and failed to follow university policy in investigating the allegation. 

According to the suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court, Kesterson alleges that Tucker Linder, a former Kent State student, raped her during the fall of their freshman year and that Karen Linder used her standing as Kesterson’s coach to conceal the allegation.

The civil lawsuit claims that Kesterson reported her coach’s cover up to former Deputy Title IX coordinator Erin Barton. The lawsuit says “Barton explained that she had spoken to and met with Athletic Director Joel Nielsen. Nielsen had intervened and prevented the filing of a formal complaint. Barton reported that she and Nielsen had decided that they would be conducting  a ‘surprise interview’ of Linder instead of following the University’s sexual-harassment policy.”

Updates to this story will be available throughout the day on

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