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Former Westminster soccer player shares details on lawsuit against coach

Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 10, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since filing a lawsuit against her coach, a former soccer goaltender on the Westminster College women's college team is sharing details on what led her to take action.

Naomi Kehl filed the lawsuit against coach Tony LeBlanc, as well as the school, claiming she was retaliated against after complaining over a sexually-charged initiation ritual.

“You sit directly across from tony, the head coach, and then they have the bus spotlight on you, and they give you a microphone and the girls are allowed to ask you whatever questions they want,” Naomi said about the activity known on the team as "Hot Seat."

Kehl said she was asked about beard burn, defined as a rash on her chin after kissing a boy, a question she says was only mildly inappropriate compared to the questions her teammates were asked, including their favorite sexual positions and more explicit inquiries.

But what was most shocking to Kehl was that she claims LeBlanc would chime in during the ritual.

“He asked me about, ‘Well, what’s beard burn?,’" said Kehil. "So he was asking me more in-depth about my experiences and things like that, which is super uncomfortable.”

As a college athlete and former BYU player, Naomi’s father, Ed Kehl, says he understands team bonding rituals, but not this.

“The wrong part here is, you literally have your male coach, I mean some of these girls are 17, 18, 19 years old, and he’s sitting here participating in, in this,” Ed Kehl said.

Ed went to the school and filed a sexual harassment complaint, making it clear he wanted to file it as a Title IX matter; but instead, the school allegedly investigated the incident on its own

“After the complaint, I got no minutes at all. I never saw the field again," Naomi said. "Then we filed the retaliation complaint, and as soon as that retaliation complaint came back out, then T started to play again.”

The complaint came in 2021, and the family says they would have passed on filing the lawsuit if Westminster had acted faster and more to their satisfaction.

“The whole thing was, people shouldn’t have to go through that, in my opinion," Ed explained. "I mean, it’s my opinion. I don’t think [LeBlanc] should be coaching.”

In a statement, the school they take sexual harassment concerns very seriously, but they have yet been served legal papers regarding the lawsuit and don’t know what has been alleged.

LeBlanc has not returned attempts by FOX 13 News for comment.

Naomi, who has since transferred twice, says soccer is no longer the same for her and is now trying school as a non-athlete.

“I put basically everything on the line to do this," she said. "I lost my scholarships. I lost my team. It was a hard thing and not a lot of people can do it. So I just feel like it was important to be that voice for people because not everyone can speak up.”