A lawsuit targeting the University of Oregon and head basketball coach Dana Altman has been filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene after allegations of sexual assault involving basketball players surfaced earlier this year.
Three University of Oregon basketball players who were investigated in the alleged sexual assault case were booted off the team and suspended from campus in the wake of the investigation. The district attorney's office, however, said a crime could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and as a result no criminal charges were filed against Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin.
When the allegations surfaced, the two active players - Dotson and Artis - continued playing basketball and featured in Oregon's March Madness win over BYU on March 20. The university said they were asked by the Eugene Police Department not to suspend players because it might have interfered with the investigation.
This week's complaint filed in U.S. District Court takes issue with the university's decision and says the UO "delayed taking any action on the sexual assaults for over two months while it prioritized winning basketball games over the health, safety, and welfare of its students."
The complaint also blames the university for bringing Austin to Eugene when he had previously been suspended at Providence College following an allegation of gang rape, saying Altman actively recruited him despite the accusation.
"UO and Altman did not impose any conditions on Austin or put into place any other protections, such as restrictions, monitoring, or counseling, to ensure that he did not present a threat to the UO community," the complaint said.
The 18-page complaint filed this week asks for a jury trial and an award of damages that will be established at trial. No date has been set at this time.
Scott Coltrane, the university's interim president, released a statement to the campus community Thursday. It said the university disagrees with the allegations presented in the lawsuit.
"The university would prefer not to be in litigation with any student," Coltrane said. "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."
Police report describes party, alleged assault
Austin, Dotson and Artis were accused of sexually assaulting the female student on the weekend of March 8. According to a police report, the alleged victim said the basketball players took her into a bathroom during a party and forced her into sex acts.
She told police she was intoxicated and told them, "stop, don't," repeatedly.
According to the police report, the alleged victim then got in a taxi with the basketball players and went to an apartment with them. She told police she was sexually assaulted by all three at the apartment, while a fourth person watched.
The graphic police report includes a statement from the alleged victim that states, "I think I just gave up. I let them do whatever they wanted. I just wanted it to be over and to go to sleep."
The suspects were interviewed and told police the sexual activity was consensual, according to investigation documents.
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