Oregon Files Counterclaim Against Student Suing Over Sexual Assault Case

February 24, 2015

The University of Oregon has filed a counterclaim seeking to dismiss a student's lawsuit that alleges the university mishandled her sexual assault case. The “publication of false allegations about Oregon’s handling of a report of an alleged sexual assault creates a very real risk that survivors will wrongly be discouraged from reporting sexual assaults and sexual harassment to Oregon," the filing stated.

The student is suing the university and its men's basketball coach, alleging that they knowingly recruited a basketball player who had previously been accused of sexual assault and suspended from Providence College. That player, Brandon Austin, was one of three members of the Oregon basketball team who were accused of sexually assaulting the female student last year. The three athletes were not charged, Oregon Live reports, though the university eventually suspended them for up to 10 years, or for as long as it takes for the female student to graduate.

The student's suit also alleges that the University of Oregon scrubbed the players' transcripts of any references to sexual misconduct, making it easier for them to transfer to play elsewhere. Austin was able transfer again, this time to Northwest Florida State College, where he is now a member of the basketball team. Steve DeMeo, Northwest Florida State's head basketball coach, has acknowledged Austin's previous suspensions, saying at the time of the transfer that "the college has decided to give this young man an opportunity to continue his education."

In the counterclaim, the university's lawyers said that the student's lawsuit was frivolous and unreasonable. "Plaintiff's attorneys filed a lawsuit with unfounded allegations in an attempt to damage a good man's reputation [basketball coach Dana Altman], curry favor and gain traction in the media, and coerce a public university to pay a hefty sum to plaintiff even though it has done nothing wrong," the filing stated.

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