UC football player sues school over sex allegations

Published: Sep. 17, 2015 at 12:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2015 at 6:01 PM EDT
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CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - A University of Cincinnati football player is now suing the university after he was suspended from campus and from the football team after being accused of sexual misconduct.

The student's lawyer says his client was unfairly treated in the hearing process and they've now decided to appeal what he is calling an unnecessary suspension.

The student had been a football player at UC for four years and had one semester left before graduating before the allegation was made. He said the girl who accused him is lying about what happened; he said her story detailing the incident has changed several times and that Cincinnati Police didn't find evidence to back her claims.

The incident happened on UC's campus back in February when the student, who wishes to remain anonymous, had what he believed was consensual sex with another student. Later that night, after he'd dropped her off, she reported the incident to Cincinnati Police but they did not find enough reasonable cause to file charges.

The girl then went to UC Police the next day and reported the alleged incident to them. Two months after that, the university took action, questioning the accused student about the incident.

A hearing was then set for Aug. 25. The student's lawyer said the university's hearing process is one that effectively presumes the accused guilty instead of requiring the accuser to prove they were assaulted.

"It's a process in which it's impossible for a student to fairly defend themselves," said Josh Engel, the student's attorney. "The hearings are pretty much kangaroo courts that are going to find you responsible and impose some kind of discipline whether it be suspension or expulsion."

The student's lawyer says since 2010, UC has had a track record of finding accused students responsible for sexual assault. Since 2010, 10 similar cases were brought forward to the university. All 10 of the accused were found guilty and all of the appeals that were presented were denied. The student's lawyer hopes the buck stops here for his client.

"We filed an injunction seeking to have him remain in school and play on the football team while his appeal is pending," Engel stated. "What isn't fair is that he should be suspended while that appeal process is going on."

On Wednesday, we received the following statement from the University of Cincinnati regarding how they handle sexual misconduct cases:

"Due to federal confidentiality laws, we cannot address the specifics of any individual case. The university is precluded by law on commenting about the circumstances of any specific case in terms of what happened and why. Due process is an important part of our process, which is mandated by federal law and guidelines. Our goal is to handle cases in a fair and sensitive manner, providing both support and due process, while also protecting the campus community.

These are complex issues and there have been strong opinions on all sides, interest groups involved, and even competing proposals on the federal level. That complexity and these divides are also found within Title IX cases within the Student Code of Conduct system where we may find our students on opposing sides. I understand how difficult these issues and cases are for our students. In our actions and processes, UC is following all laws and the guidelines required by the Department of Education regarding Title IX, with the goal of assuring the best and safest learning environment and campus for all. We care about all our students."

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