Ex-Arizona athlete awarded $999K settlement

Baillie Gibson, a former discus thrower and shot-putter for the University of Arizona who was the target of death threats and was stalked and physically attacked by her former coach, has been awarded a $999,000 settlement by the state of Arizona.

The settlement, first reported by the Arizona Daily Star, brings to an end a nearly three-and-a-half-year court battle between Gibson, her former coach, Craig Carter, and the University of Arizona.

"Baillie is very happy that the matter has been resolved and she feels vindicated," Gibson's Tucson-based attorney Lynne Cadigan said.

"We hope the closure of this case will help Ms. Gibson move forward and we wish her a successful life," the school said in a statement.

During an April 2015 assault inside his school office, Carter, a former University of Arizona assistant track coach, pushed Gibson onto a couch, choked her by placing one hand around her neck and, while holding a box cutter to her face with his other hand, told her he'd cut her face so no man would ever want her.

Carter acknowledged his actions in a videotaped statement to police and later when he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and assault with a dangerous weapon. In May 2018, Carter was sentenced to five years in prison for the assault.

A May 2017 investigation by Outside the Lines revealed that athletic officials at Arizona did not act immediately to discipline Carter when they first had concerns about his behavior as far back as November 2013.

In November 2015, Gibson, under the name "Jane Doe," filed a civil lawsuit against Carter, former University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, the school's head track and field coach Fred Harvey, the university and its board of regents, alleging that coaches and top athletic officials failed to protect Gibson against "acts of rape, assault, inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse."

In February 2016, Carter responded to Gibson's lawsuit by countersuing both Gibson and her attorney, Cadigan. Carter alleged he was defamed by Cadigan and said he and Gibson had a consensual affair.

While Carter's lawsuit against Cadigan remains active, he dropped his lawsuit against Gibson as part of the settlement agreement.

Since November 2015, Carter, a former state employee, has had his legal bills paid for with public funds.

As of March 23, according to figures obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, the state has paid $2.65 million to defend Carter, the university and its former athletic director, Byrne. Byrne, who has since left the school to become athletic director at the University of Alabama, was dismissed from the case in 2017.

"It's shocking to me that the University of Arizona would rather pay more than $2.6 million to lawyers than compensate a victim of a crime," Cadigan said. Cadigan added that she agreed to waive her attorney fees because she wanted to make sure Gibson was fairly compensated.

Carter, a former thrower himself, recruited Gibson in the fall of 2009, visiting her and her family in Gibson's hometown of Casper, Wyoming, and telling Gibson's parents he'd treat Baillie "like my own daughter."

But starting in June 2012, Gibson said, she was coerced and blackmailed by Carter into meeting him for sexual encounters after Carter sexually assaulted her after a house party she attended following the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon. For nearly three years, Gibson said, the two met almost weekly for sex in Carter's office, in the Wildcats' track and field training room, and while traveling in team hotels.

"The University of Arizona prohibits all forms of sex discrimination, which includes sexual violence, and we widely publicize resources and avenues available for students and employees who need help and support. In this case, when we knew, we acted. As soon as the student athlete informed us of Carter's actions, we immediately turned that information over to law enforcement and began the process of terminating him," University of Arizona spokesman Chris Sigurdson said in a statement.

When a track and field assistant discovered Carter and Gibson in Carter's locked office and grew suspicious that the two were sexually involved, Carter was questioned about his relationship with Gibson. During a meeting with then-athletic director Byrne, also attended by head track and field coach Harvey, Carter denied a sexual relationship with Gibson.

School records obtained by Outside the Lines revealed that after that meeting, Gibson was never contacted in person by anybody from the University of Arizona. Instead, she received two emails from the school's office of institutional equity. Gibson said she did not respond to the emails at the time because Carter had threatened to kill her if she revealed the sexual encounters.

After being questioned by his bosses, Carter continued to coach Gibson and demand sex, Gibson said.

"Throughout all of this I became full of shame. Craig forced me to keep my shame a secret. Every day I had to pretend that things were fine," Gibson said at Carter's May 2018 sentencing hearing. "I felt that was the only way I could protect myself, my family and my career. I feel like I can never get close to anyone because I feel dirty, used and ashamed."

In the days after Carter's April 2015 assault on Gibson, he sent Gibson dozens of threatening emails from his University of Arizona email address.

Gibson and her roommate, fellow thrower Julie Labonte, also recorded a phone call with Carter, during which the coach threatened to kill both women.

"I know exactly where you're gonna be every day," Carter told Gibson in the recorded phone call. "Don't tell me you're gonna call the cops because when you gonna call them? When I bust through your window with a shotgun loaded coming right at you? You gonna call them real fast? Think they'll get there in time?"

Sigurdson, the school spokesperson, said that when the school became fully aware of Carter's violent behavior "university staff then worked with Ms. Gibson and her advocate on accommodations for her education and well-being."

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the university has not admitted liability in the case.

Cadigan said the amount of the settlement alone should speak volumes.

"You don't pay almost a million dollars if you haven't done anything wrong," Cadigan said.