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Young Man Accused of Yelling Racial Slurs by BYU Opens Up About His Experience

 

What started as a packed and competitive BYU Girl's Volleyball game on Friday, August 27, 2022, quickly turned into a national story when Duke volleyball player Rachael Richardson (pictured with the volleyball above) claimed someone was yelling racial slurs at her from the student section. Within days, CNN, ESPN, NPR, and other national news outlets picked up the story.


BYU Athletics quickly responded by releasing a statement indicating that they "had banned the fan who was identified by Duke." Athletic director Tom Holmoe spoke to the students before the volleyball game the following day, calling the incident "egregious" and informing students that they "did not live up to" the commandment that they "love one another." The student section was moved away from the volleyball court. Utah Governor Spencer Cox called the BYU fan a "racist a**hole" in a since-deleted Tweet and lamented that nobody stood up to him. The South Carolina women's basketball coach canceled their BYU games and popular social media accounts used the event as evidence of the racism of Utah, BYU, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.






As the story spread in the media, reports challenging Richardson's narrative surfaced. On August 30 The Cougar Chronicle, an independent BYU student newspaper, released a story citing an anonymous whistleblower from the athletic department. "BYU Athletics staff went through footage of the entire game... Her story doesn’t add up, BYU banned an innocent man to appease the mob and make their PR mess go away." The Chronicle published statements from several students who were seated in the student section during the game. None of them had heard the alleged racial slurs. About two weeks after the event, BYU released the findings of their investigation: they had been unable to corroborate Richardson's claims. They apologized to the fan and lifted his ban.


Throughout the investigation, the identity of the individual accused of yelling racial slurs and subsequently banned was kept private. Yesterday, Josh Walton joined his father on an episode of The Jimmy Rex Show to discuss his experience as the unnamed baned fan publicly for the first time. He described the "jarring experience" of waking up the morning after the game to see stories about his alleged racial remarks on nearly every national news outlet. "I was definitely afraid for my safety from being identified... and having that branding associated with me," he shared.


Left to right: Josh Walton, Jimmy Rex, Jason Walton.

Josh Walton's father, Jason Walton, gave more details on how the incident affected his daughter who was a BYU student, "my daughter [sat] in her classes at BYU listening to her BYU professors rant about this terrible racist kid from UVU, and she just had to eat that." He also explained more of what happened behind the scenes during the investigation, "In the beginning, I said [to athletic director Tom Holmoe], 'please lift the ban, it is causing unbelievable stress on my son. He's already in a tough spot, please lift the ban...' and he said no." (Note: Josh had recently lost his sister, grandfather, and uncle when this event happened.)


Jason Walton continued, "So I had to get an attorney involved and the attorney said 'Let's be honest, you think it's intentional infliction of emotional distress.' And BYU said, 'Yeah, we're still not going to lift it." Walton explained that the lawyer's next move was to inform BYU that if Josh's name leaked, it would negatively affect Jason Walton's pest control business, which would be grounds for a defamation lawsuit. (Walton founded and owns Moxie Pest Control, one of the 10 largest pest control companies in the US.) "And then that's when they lifted the ban the next day after just previously telling us that they wouldn't do it... Did they do it because it was the right thing to do or did they do it because there were claims?" Walton mused.


In the interview, Josh Walton detailed how Tom Holmoe reached out to apologize right after the ban was lifted and made amends by offering Josh season tickets and a jersey reserved for BYU athletes. Josh and Jason Walton expressed gratitude for how he handled the situation after the investigation closed.


Jason Walton clarified, "I'm a friend to BYU. What I am doing is friendly to BYU. I'm especially a friend to all BYU students. So let's do the right thing because it's the right thing to do."

 

Note: the author also co-authored the Cougar Chronicle article referenced in this piece


Note: Jason Walton is currently running for US Senate


Ward Radio News is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) and does not officially represent the Church. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily represent the position of Ward Radio News.


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6 Comments


So very sad. Why make a statement before doing an investigation? Why isn't the young lady who made the claim being vilified? I'm not for that, but it would be a natural consequence. She tried to destroy someone for what? A moment of fame? I hope this young man and his family heal from this tragedy.

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I wonder how much they didn't care about lifting his ban because he was a lowly UVU student. I went to both UVU and BYU. In my experience, BYU didn't just have a healthy pride in their school, but many felt better thank other people such as those UVU students because they attend BYU. It really soured my experience ar BYU.

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So...what actually happened? What did Josh say to make the player think it was racist?

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Replying to

Nothing, no evidence of a single thing

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I've learned to be patient whenever something like this is reported in the media and not jump to any conclusions or make any judgements because it seems so often that reality is vastly different from the initial reporting. It just takes time for the truth to come out.

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Tom Holmoe and Governor Cox should freaking eat it (Cox is such a wuss anyway, what the heck is Utah doing?). Holmoe bent the knee so quickly to protect his precious reputation, and he hurt an innocent kid in the process and then went to preach about loving others as children of God. And it appears that he only lifted the ban when he thought his a** was gonna get sued. Who was standing up for the kid? The kid is so lucky that no one leaked his name, seriously that is such a huge blessing. I am glad he was able to find healing. But BYU needs to freaking grow a pair. We are supposed to be in the…


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