Report: Witnesses in case involving former LSU WR feared retaliation from Louisiana political powerbroker
Former LSU wide receiver Drake Davis’ name was back in the headlines with the reports detailing accusations that he abused a woman he was dating while part of the Tigers program.
A new report reveals another concerning element of the case involving Davis. According to Andrea Gallo of The Advocate, witnesses feared retaliation from a wealthy businessman and Louisiana political powerbroker if they came forward against Davis:
[M]ultiple witnesses told officers they were afraid of coming forward because they feared repercussions from influential Baton Rouge businessman and political donor Jim Bernhard.
Gallo writes that Bernhard is mentioned by name in seven separate instances in police reports about Davis’ alleged abuse of LSU tennis player Jade Lewis. The CEO of Bernhard Capital Partners and former CEO of the Fortune 500 contracting firm known as The Shaw Group, took in Davis when he was growing up and helped raise him, per The Advocate’s report.
Even other LSU players were aware of Bernhard’s potential payback:
One football player, whose name is redacted in the police report, said Lewis told him Bernhard had warned her directly against coming forward.
“According to Mr.(redacted), Ms.(redacted) said that Jim Bernhard had threatened her this past weekend, ‘You won’t have a case,’” the police report reads.
The same football player pleaded with police to keep his identity shielded from public view.
“If my teammates and my coaches knew I’m giving y’all this information, it’s not going to be very good,” police recorded him saying. “Mr.(redacted) was very adamant that his name stayed out of this report because he feared team ramifications and repercussions from Jim Bernhard.”
Bernhard denied ever threatening Lewis when asked by The Advocate.
Lewis reportedly shared concern that Bernhard could have her deported:
When LSU Police interviewed Senior Associate Athletic Director Miriam Segar, who reported Lewis’ abuse in police and Title IX reports, Bernhard’s name came up again.
“Ms (redacted) expressed to Ms. Segar fear over retaliation because Mr. Davis has told her that his legal guardian, Jim Bernhard, would have her deported from the country and kicked out of LSU if she revealed their violent relationship,” police recorded from their interview with Segar.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) named appointed Bernhard to the LSU Board of Supervisors, but Bernhard turned the position down without explanation. Bernhard is the state’s former Democratic Party chairman and a major donor to Democratic candidates in the state, including Edwards and East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
The full, detailed Advocate report can be read here.