By Gabriel Greschler
Special to the S.F. Examiner
Former University of San Francisco soccer player Manny Padilla was released from his contract from New Mexico United on Saturday. The news was first reported by the Albuquerque Journal.
The decision comes almost two weeks after an online petition made multiple allegations of sexual assault against members of the USF men’s soccer team, specifically naming Padilla. On July 14, New Mexico United suspended Padilla and announced they were requesting any relevant information about him from USF.
New Mexico United did not respond to a request for comment regarding Padilla’s release. USF declined to comment.
A university investigation found that Padilla had violated sexual misconduct policy at USF in 2015 during his sophomore year when he forced himself onto another student and groped her inside a dormitory room, The San Francisco Examiner reported last week.
Despite the university’s findings, Padilla’s soccer career was not affected at the time, documents show.
The victim in the 2015 incident, Julia Casciano, later left the university because of how the university handled the case, she told the Examiner.
In response to the petition’s allegations, USF officials said that going forward, any athlete found responsible for violating sexual misconduct or sexual assault policy would be removed from their team.
On July 21, men’s soccer coach Leonard Griffin went further, writing in an online post for the university that any player under investigation by the university’s Title IX office would be suspended from their team until the case is closed.
“As the head coach of the program, we can and will do more to ensure our student athletes are constituents of a safe environment for all people on campus and in their communities,” Griffin wrote. “We can accept and learn from losses, we can accept setbacks, but we will never accept any kind of sexual misconduct or violence.”
In addition to the change in policy, the university said it will also review the Padilla case, begin an investigation into the allegations against the men’s soccer team and audit their own Title IX processes.
The investigation will be publicly available once completed.