One day after the woman involved in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case filed a civil suit against Florida State University, another major university is facing a lawsuit over its handling of a rape case. Thursday, the woman who alleged in March that three former University of Oregon basketball players sexually assaulted her sued the university and head basketball coach Dana Altman, The Oregonian reported.
Unlike the civil suit against Florida State, which claims that FSU athletic officials knew of sexual assault allegations against Winston, the civil suit against Oregon alleges that Altman and the school were aware that one of the players accused of rape, former Oregon player Brandon Austin, had also been involved in a sexual assault case at Providence College, where he played before transferring to Oregon. The suit claims Oregon and Altman violated the woman’s Title IX rights and showed “deliberate indifference” to the safety of female students by recruiting Austin.
The allegations against three Oregon players — Austin, Damyean Dotson, and Domonic Artis — surfaced in May, when Oregon suspended all three from team activities (it later suspended them from campus for at least four years). The woman, a student at Oregon, alleged that Dotson forced her to perform oral sex in the bathroom of an off-campus party while Austin penetrated her against her will. Later, they took her to an apartment leased to two of the players and all three had sex with her. There were no charges filed in the case due to insufficient evidence, according to the Eugene district attorney.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Austin and another man were being investigated in a sexual assault case in Providence, R.I. That investigation stemmed from an alleged sexual assault that took place in November and resulted in Austin’s season-long suspension from the Providence basketball team. Austin transferred to Oregon in January 2014.
When Oregon suspended Austin and the other players from campus, Altman said that he had been aware of Austin’s suspension at Providence but not the reason for it. The civil suit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, however, says that he was.
“Upon information and belief, Altman and other UO personnel were fully aware of the basis for Austin’s season-long suspension,” the suit says. “In fact, Austin’s mother, when asked about what the UO coaches knew, said, ‘We told them everything. They knew everything.’”
The civil suits aren’t the only connection between Florida State and Oregon, which met in the Rose Bowl semifinal of the inaugural College Football Playoff last weekend. After Oregon won, at least three Ducks players chanted “No Means No,” presumably in reference to Winston’s case, to the tune of Florida State’s famous war chant (Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said he would discipline players for the chant).
None of the three basketball players are named as defendants in the civil suit, which is seeking unspecified damages. Unike Florida State, Oregon is not among the at least 94 colleges and universities facing investigations from the Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights into potential violations of Title IX laws in the handling of sexual assaults. The school’s interim president issued a statement Thursday saying that “the university disagrees with the allegations against it and believes that it acted in accordance with the law.”