Rachel Richardson, a black Duke volleyball player, claimed late last month that a spectator at a recent match called her racial slurs, an ugly charge amplified by major media outlets, NBA superstar LeBron James, and Richardson’s godmother, a Democrat political candidate in Texas.
But more that a week after an investigation into the alleged incident at Brigham Young University and local law enforcement officials say they have found no evidence it occurred.
“Friday night in our match against Brigham Young University my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match,” Richardson claimed late last month. “The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. Both the officials and BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.”
The fan who was accused of yelling the n-word at Richardson, who is the only person who appears to have heard the alleged remarks in the arena where thousands of people were present, was quickly banned by BYU “from all BYU athletic venues,” the school said in a statement.
9b. The @byuROC student section is right on the baseline of the court, right where players serve the ball. You’re arms length distance from some of the fans to the players. 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/18qWuzfosN
— André Hutchens (@ac_hutchens) September 3, 2022
Numerous major legacy news publications published the story of Richardson’s claims, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and ESPN.
Lesa Pamplin, who is running for election for the Number 5 judge of the Tarrant County Criminal Court Texas, tweeted about the alleged incident, writing: “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Duke’s volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a n****r every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”
NBA player LeBron James, who often uses his platform to promote Democrat causes, quickly amplified Pamplin’s tweet, writing on Twitter: “@LesaPamplin, you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not sports.”
@LesaPamplin, you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood! We have her back. This is not sports. #striveforgreatness #morethanavollyballplayer 🤎🤎🤎✊🏾👑 https://t.co/kMveNLKp5h
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 27, 2022
Richardson declared that her goal was not to “call BYU’s athletics out but rather to call them up” as she saw this as “an opportunity to dig deep into closed cultures which tolerate amoral racist acts, such as those exhibited Friday night, and change them for the better.”
Richardson then wrote: “It is not enough to indicate that you are not racist, instead you must demonstrate that you are anti-racist.”
However, there appears to be just one problem with her story: There is no evidence that it ever happened.
BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer said that based on law enforcement’s initial review of the surveillance footage of the crowd, there is no evidence that the person who was banned did what Richardson accused him of doing.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” he said.
Besendorfer further said that no one else has come forward to say that they heard any racial slurs being shouted during the game.
BYU Associate Athletic Director Jon McBride confirmed in a statement that the school has scoured available video of the crowd and cannot find any evidence that the incident ever happened.
“Various BYU Athletics employees have been reviewing video from BYUtv and other cameras in the facility that the volleyball team has access to for film review. This has been ongoing since right after the match on Friday night,” McBride said. “The person who was banned was the person identified by Duke as using racial slurs. However, we have been unable to find any evidence of that person using slurs in the match.”
One sports journalist, David Hookstead, of Outkick.com, noted Richardson once liked a tweet claiming civil rights legend Martin Luther King Jr. would support the whipping of white people. He said the athlete blocked him on Twitter after he shared the tweet.
Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson blocked me after I shared a racist tweet she liked and pointed out unanswered questions about her BYU/racial slur story.
There’s still zero evidence supporting her claims that has been made available to the public at this time. pic.twitter.com/l2EkCQy72h
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) August 31, 2022