Attorney Asks Court To Toss Ole Miss Coach Kennedy’s Suit
By Marlen Garcia, USA TODAY
The lawyer for a witness in the misdemeanor assault case against Mississippi men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy wants a judge to dismiss Kennedy’s defamation suit against his client.
Attorney Philip Taliaferro filed a response to Kennedy’s suit Tuesday in the Hamilton County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Michael Strother, a valet who told police he saw an incident involving Kennedy and a cab driver in downtown Cincinnati last Thursday. Kennedy has pleaded not guilty on simple assault charges.
The cab driver, Mohamed Moctar Ould Jiddou, also is named in the defamation suit. Kennedy is seeking a judgment in excess of $25,000 from Jiddou and Strother.
Taliaferro said he also sent Kennedy’s lawyer a letter asking him to drop the civil suit. If not, he wants to depose Kennedy within 30 days in Cincinnati, according to a copy of the letter obtained by USA TODAY.
These are the latest developments in a bizarre series of events stemming from the incident. Kennedy was charged with assault for hitting Jiddou. It is also alleged that the coach hurled racial slurs at the cabdriver.
The team’s coordinator of basketball operations, Bill Armstrong, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Kennedy, interim coach at Cincinnati from 2005 to 2006, was out with assistants when the incident occurred in the early morning Thursday, several hours before Ole Miss lost to Louisville in Cincinnati.
Kennedy has continued coaching, getting a vote of confidence from athletics director Pete Boone.
The coach has said he filed the civil suit against Jiddou and Strother to keep his credibility from being ruined. In the defamation suit, Kennedy alleges he and some assistant coaches heard a racial slur about African Americans in a conversation Jiddou was having with another cabdriver and only a verbal exchange between the parties ensued.
Reached Tuesday evening, Kennedy’s lawyer, Richard Katz, said he had not seen Taliaferro’s response but has no intention of dropping the case. “We haven’t changed our position on anything,” Katz said.
Strother’s lawyer said his client will not be deterred from testifying against Kennedy. “Some witnesses might be so afraid that they would back down,” Taliaferro said. “He will be like the old baseball umpire who calls them as he sees them.”
Strother appeared with Taliaferro outside the courthouse Tuesday. “I was just trying to step forward and do the right thing, and it’s all blown up in my face,” said Strother, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.