Two Auburn football players are accused of harassing an Air Force veteran, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and her service dog as she walked to class.
According to WTVM, Ashley Ozyurt, 25, uses a service dog to help cope with PTSD, brought upon by her being sexually assaulted while she was in the military from the ages of 21 to 23. She posted about her encounter on the Facebook page Service Dog Memes. Her story is posted below.
At 10:30am today I walked into the Halley Center on my way to class. As I was walking I heard people behind me whistling and making kissing noises at my service dog. I ignored it like I usually do for about 10 feet and they didn’t not stop. I turned around and said to two Auburn University football players “Please don’t distract my service dog.” Player number 79 moved towards me and proceeded to yell, “What do you want? HUH? Whats wrong with you, nobody’s bothering YOU. What are you gonna do? HUH?” I opened my mouth but no words could escape. My hyperventilating only seemed to fuel their verbal assault. When I didn’t speak, my service dog began to drag me away from the situation, one of them yelled, “THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT BITCH!”
At that point, in front of dozens of people, my PTSD took over and I withered to a crying mess. I went to the nearest safe place, the Office of Accessibility and reported the student’s football numbers that they were wearing their FB sweat suits and backpacks. #79, the main attacker, and his hype man #95. I attempted to attend my first class, but after 30 minutes of crying and humiliating myself further, I knew I needed to get home.
I have never had a negative experience like this, ever! Especially on Auburn’s campus where I have been accepted and treated like family until now. In fact, I have commented many times Auburn on how the campus is a safe place for everyone. It is no longer a safe place for me. I am hurt, angered, and very humiliated. I expected more from my university’s athletes.
The two players, Andrew Williams, 79, and Dontavius Russell, 95 are both defensive linemen and freshmen at the university. Williams, noted as “the main attacker,” is a Pre-Business major from McDonough, Ga. and played football at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. Russell is a Pre-Nursing major from Carrollton, Ga. and played for Carrollton High School.
Mike Clardy, AU’s Director of Communications, released this statement late Tuesday night:
Auburn University condemns any behavior that is demeaning to those with disabilities. We’re investigating the reports and will take all appropriate action once all the facts are known.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn and assistant athletic director of football David Gunn have both apologized to her for the comments the players made. According to Ozyurt, Malzahn told her during their phone call that the situation would be dealt with.