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United releases Padilla after 2015 sexual misconduct case came to light

Manny Padilla, formerly of New Mexico United.

Five years after the University of San Francisco says it found him guilty in a Title IX investigation of “sexual misconduct” with a female student, Manny Padilla has been released from the New Mexico United soccer team as a result.

Padilla served a two-game suspension while United looked into the sexual misconduct case that occurred when Padilla was a sophomore soccer player in 2015 at USF — a matter the team was unaware of until brought to its attention earlier this month through social media and an online petition.

“New Mexico United has released Manny Padilla from his contract,” a team statement posted to multiple social media accounts stated.

United said it will not comment more on the matter other than to confirm Padilla’s release.

The case was brought to United’s attention earlier this month when USF graduate William Midence launched a change.com petition demanding USF to “TAKE ACTION NOW! Alleged sexual allegations on the USFCA Men’s Soccer Team.” That petition has numerous details of allegations of a culture of misconduct around the program, and Padilla is named specifically. The petition had more than 5,200 signatures as of Saturday.

The Journal has not been able to reach Padilla, now a 24-year-old who was playing his second season on Albuquerque’s USL Championship team, for comment on his release from the team.

His two-game suspension from United and release from the team is more than USF imposed against him in 2015 when he was found by a school investigation to have committed the act.

In an article posted on July 19 on SFExaminer.com by Gabriel Greschler, documents obtained by the reporter — documents requested of USF by the Journal but not released — indicate Padilla forced himself on a then sophomore at USF, requesting sex and groping her in a dorm room.

The victim spoke with the Examiner, saying she was “shocked” the matter even resurfaced five years later, adding she felt USF mishandled the case initially.

USF has said it will re-examine the 2015 case and the handling of it and look into the culture surrounding the men’s soccer team.

A USF spokeswoman told the Journal that it could confirm Padilla “was involved in a case of sexual misconduct involving another USF student. After an investigation by USF’s Title IX office, Mr. Padilla was found to be responsible and, as result, he received disciplinary sanctions from the university.”

Padilla missed only a total of four matches in four seasons at USF — two of which occurred before the incident even happened, so it is unclear what his discipline actually was.

In a statement since then, USF said, “Moving forward, any student who is found responsible for sexual misconduct or sexual assault will now be immediately removed from university-sponsored, non-academic activities, including intercollegiate athletics.”

United has played its past two matches, both at El Paso — a July 15 draw and a 2-1 win on Friday night — without Padilla and, for now, has no immediate plans to fill his spot on the roster in a shortened 16-game season that has already seen four matches completed.

It is unclear exactly when Padilla was informed he was released, but he was included in the team’s game notes media pack prior to Friday’s match.

Padilla had started 23 matches for United last season and started each of the first two matches this season before the suspension.

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