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More students punished for sexual assault are winning in court


Jake New has the analysis in InsideHigherEd. The start:

Last week, Brandon Austin, a former college basketball player, filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon for $7.5 million, arguing that administrators there violated his rights when they suspended him over his alleged involvement in a gang rape.

Austin was able to transfer to a community college and play basketball there last season, but has since left to (so far, unsuccessfully) pursue a professional basketball career. In the lawsuit, Austin claims that the punishment caused him emotional distress and lessened his chances of one day playing in the National Basketball Association. His case joins more than 50 other pending lawsuits filed by men who say they were unfairly kicked off campus after being accused of sexual assault.

If filed last year, Austin’s lawsuit would have seemed like a long shot, especially as the athlete had been accused of sexual assault at another institution before he enrolled at Oregon. But accused students suing the institutions that suspended or expelled them are now increasingly winning those lawsuits, including at least four cases in the last four months. …

10/30/2015 Klinger: Unfortunate that Mr. Austin has decided to defend his rights

Kyle Wizner has the latest in the Daily Emerald. UO Duck Advocate Tobin Klinger:

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Austin has decided to pursue this type of lawsuit, and we intend to vigorously defend the university. We’re confident Mr. Austin was afforded fair and consistent due process that fully complied with the university’s legal obligations. We cannot provide further comment because this is pending litigation,”

Of course if UO was trying to nail a professor, archivist, counseling psychologist, or cop, or just destroy their reputation, Klinger would be happy to provide a lot more comment. Or even hold a news conference or two, if he thought it would help his boss:

10/29/2015: Brandon Austin sues UO, Mike Gottfredson, Robin Holmes, etc. for $7.5M

Not exactly a surprise. Tyson Alger in the Oregonian. A snippet:

Former Oregon men’s basketball player Brandon Austin is seeking $7.5 million in damages in a lawsuit against the University of Oregon, former president Michael R. Gottfredson and three others.

The 18-page lawsuit, filed Thursday in Lane County Circuit Court, alleges that the university, the former president, UO director of Student Conduct & Community Standards Sandy Weintraub, assistant dean of students Chicora Martin and vice president of student life Robin Holmes, violated Austin’s rights by unfairly suspending him and not providing due process, among other things.

In the suit, Austin claims personal and professional harm, emotional distress, a lesser chance of playing in the NBA, and loss of future income following his dismissal from the university in June 2014 following a sexual assault allegation against him and two teammates in the spring of 2014. The suit, filed by attorneys Alan C. Milstein of New Jersey and Marianne Dugan of Eugene, claims Austin “committed no sexual assault.”

Charges were never filed against Austin and teammates Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson. All three players were dismissed from the university and barred from campus for at least four years, and up to 10, in June 2014.

The alleged sexual assault took place in the early hours of March 9, 2014, as players and students celebrated the Ducks’ victory against No. 3 Arizona in the regular-season finale. Five weeks later, in April, the Lane Country District Attorney declined to charge Austin, Dotson and Artis, citing “conflicting statements and actions by the victim” while acknowledging that the Eugene Police Department’s investigation revealed there was nonetheless “no doubt the incidents occurred.” …

Brandon Austin’s full complaint is here. What did former UO General Counsel Randy Geller and his Associate GC Doug Park know, and when did they know it? I have the feeling we’re going to find out:

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“Refused to provide unredacted reports?” I’m shocked that Mr. Austin would claim that UO would do this. Shocked.

Brandon Austin’s attorney’s are local lawyer Marianne Dugan and NJ lawyer Alan C. Milstein, a noted expert on the sperm donor industry. Really.

His favorite words are “preeminent”, “prominent”, and “prestigious:

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Ms Dugan’s website is here:

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  1. Confused? 10/30/2015

    I could see why all this would be confusing for someone living in the Johnson Hall compound. Getting sued by both the perpetrator and the victim? Probably going to have to pay money to both of them? Is the legal system just crazy or what?

    No one really cares whether the University gets rid of a student, a librarian, a police officer, or a psychologist. What matters in all these cases is the very arrogant way in which the University has tried to impose its’ will on all of these people without due process. It’s been a failure on many levels. Administrators were given long leashes to run their kingdoms as they saw fit. General Counsel advised that all of these cases would be a slam dunk to defend in court. The President did whatever he was told and didn’t want to be held responsible for any big decisions. Now the University is on the hook for many millions of dollars. When you fail at process this badly, yes, you get sued by everyone involved, and yes, you’re probably going to lose most if not all of them. Take note that the lawyers who bragged about winning these cases haven’t dared to litigate them themselves. Good luck on the upcoming cases UO!

  2. Max Powers 10/30/2015

    I was wondering how long it would take someone who was being accused under Title IX to do this. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights specifically spells out that when a hearing is held you can’t cross examine and you can’t compel witnesses to appear. Might that just violate the due process clause????? You have ill equipped administrators on college campuses having to make these decisions under guidelines from OCR that they say you must follow or lose your federal funding. On the other hand you have this neat little document called the Bill of Rights. I will be interested to see what comes out of this.

  3. Keith Appleby 10/30/2015

    I am sure some people are familiar with when I sued the University of Oregon for racketeering when I was similarly brought up on fabricated student conduct charges as part of one Doug Park’s retaliatory schemes:

    But, if you look at my quote from 2011, I said, ““As a long-time activist for the rights of both workers and students, it’s important that the University be held accountable for the actions of their employees and that this sort of thing never happens to anyone else.”

    Even though the University eventually settled my case out of court and I was eventually exonerated, I am incredibly disappointed that we never saw the structural (or personnel) changes that were required to make sure that it never to anyone else happened again.

  4. Dumpster Fire 10/30/2015

    Good for him. I was hoping one of the railroaded players would fight back.

  5. honest Uncle Bernie 10/31/2015

    It seems to me, from what I’ve read about this case in the news and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine (however unreliable both these sources may be), that he might have a good case, and the other “perps” as well. I can imagine both the alleged victim and the alleged perps all getting money out of UO! It’s hard to know how to handle sordid cases like this. The best thing is to try to avoid them altogether, insofar as that is attainable. Given a campus saturated in alcohol and drugs combined with a modern ethos of complete sexual licentiousness, as well as bad faith and misunderstanding between “the sexes,” it’s hard to see how.

    • Justin Morton 10/31/2015

      The school could have just let the process play out in the criminal justice system.

      It never made sense for UO to deny any assault occurred and then immediately release the players involved in the non-assault.

      • Anonymous 11/05/2015

        Did the UO deny any assault occurred? I don’t remember them saying that.

  6. Bad Council 11/01/2015

    This is why we should force all incoming students to sign an arbitration clause waving their rights to sue the University for any reason. It’s the only financially expedient thing to do.

  7. just different 11/01/2015

    “We’re confident Mr. Austin was afforded fair and consistent due process that fully complied with the university’s legal obligations.”

    Ah, more Klingeresque prevarication. I won’t get started on the “fair and consistent” part, but I will say that universities have shockingly few legal obligations when it comes to due process. “Full compliance” is a very low bar indeed. But that still doesn’t mean it was met.

  8. Hart 11/01/2015

    Is anyone else as icked out as I am that Mr. Austin’s attorney feels like introducing Jane Doe’s unrelated sexual history, and saying that’s required in order to defend him, is appropriate (page 9, part/section/paragraph 42)? Because as far as I know, willingness to have sex immediately on meeting 97% of people does not make it true that one is willing to have sex withe the other 3% ever, nor that one is willing to have it with any of that 97% again ever. I know there are a lot of people who feel like this is relevant, but it’s just not, and that this is listed sort of up-front as a requirement of defending anyone …no.

  9. Willie Kamm 11/01/2015

    Wow – so evidently the rule of law is outdated. “Icked out” trumps due process.

    • Hart 11/02/2015

      You think due process requires bringing in unrelated sexual history? Because I think in Oregon there have been rape shield laws that prohibit bringing up unrelated sexual behavior for 40 years, which encompasses the entire time this lawyer has been practicing, and is nearly twice the duration of Mr. Austin’s life.

      So yeah, due process is a good thing, but it does not require bringing in anyone to talk about whether this person has had sex with anyone else, at all, ever, in any context. And that the lawyer is asserting that this is a requirement is pretty crappy.

  10. Willie Kamm 11/02/2015

    good luck

  11. gary_gnu 11/03/2015

    UO falls on its face regarding due process when they ignore information that clearly supports the “defendant’s” position and refutes the “claimant’s” position. Due process means using ALL of the information obtained in an investigation and not just the information that suits the organizations needs or desires. Unfortunately, this also seems to stoke the fires for subsequent lawsuits…..from both sides! Hence the need to clean house immediately so this does not continue.

  12. Student Life 11/05/2015

    The student conduct office worked closely with the athletes to coach them how to transfer out of UO with minimal impact on their academic and basketball careers. Sounds like it didn’t work out as they intended.

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