A student who charges that she was gang raped at the University of Oregon has sued the school and basketball coach Dana Altman for recruiting one of the alleged perpetrators, Brandon Austin, even though he’d previously been accused of sex assault.
According to Oregon Live, the lawsuit was filed on Thursday in Eugene, Oregon, and claims that the University of Oregon demonstrated "'deliberate indifference' to the safety of its students by recruiting a player with a history [of sexual violence]."
The suit claims that Altman and the University of Oregon violated the student's rights under Title IX by bringing in a known alleged sexual assailant.
Title IX states:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
In 2013, Brandon Austin was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student in November of his freshman year at Providence College in Rhode Island. Prosecutors declined to press charges, but Austin and another basketball player were suspended for the duration of the season. Austin then transferred to the University of Oregon.
By March, Austin had been accused of campus sexual assault again. This time, the allegation was that Austin, along with teammates Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, had gang raped a female student, who filed the current lawsuit.
After the allegations were made public, the men were banned from the school for up to 10 years. Prior to that, the three athletes remained on the basketball team's active roster.
The lawsuit claims the men were given a deal from the university that allowed them to quietly leave the school without being formally expelled, and without "any reference to "sexual misconduct," per Oregon Live.
Austin now has a basketball scholarship at Northwest Florida State College. When recruited, the college released statements citing Austin's need to get "back on track" but never explicitly divulged his history of sexual assault. Basketball coach Steve DeMeo said:
"The college has decided to give this young man an opportunity to continue his education. We have the experience, support and resources to help Brandon get back on track towards graduating and help him be a successful student athlete on and off the court."
The lawsuit's plaintiff is still a student at University of Oregon.
In a statement, University of Oregon Interim President Scott Coltrane said the school will continue to support the student:
The university would prefer not to be in litigation with any student. We have been as respectful and supportive as possible of the student, including immediately implementing support services and appropriately honoring her choice of process, once hearing of her experience.
The university disagrees with the allegations against it and believes that it acted in accordance with the law, including Title IX. This litigation in no way undermines the university's on-going commitment to support the student inside and outside of the classroom.
To be clear, UO's review of transfer applications for all students includes an evaluation of academic credentials and potential campus fit. Enrollment decisions are made based on the information made available to us by applicants and our colleagues nationally.
The University of Oregon had filed a countersuit against the student on Feb. 9, claiming her allegations would deter rape victims from coming forward in the future, but dropped the counterclaim on Feb. 26 following intense backlash.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at email@example.com.
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