U of Oregon Settles Sexual Assault Lawsuit

August 5, 2015

The University of Oregon has settled a lawsuit with a student who said she was gang-raped by three male basketball players. Oregon will award the student $800,000 and free tuition at the university. It will also adopt a policy requiring transfer students to report their disciplinary history to the university.

The female student sued Oregon and its men's basketball coach last year over allegations that they recruited one of the players who allegedly assaulted her while knowing that he had previously been accused of sexual assault at Providence College. The suit also alleged that the university had scrubbed the three players' transcripts of any references to sexual misconduct, making it easier for them to transfer to play elsewhere after they were accused of misconduct at Oregon. The three students -- who were not charged -- were suspended for up to 10 years, but all have since transferred to play basketball at other colleges.

In addition, the student accused the university of violating her privacy by accessing her campus therapy records without her consent. As the lawsuit contended that the ordeal caused the student emotional distress, the university says it examined her mental health records to prepare for the litigation. The decision to review those records led to a national debate over privacy rights of campus sexual assault victims, though legal experts said the university did nothing illegal.

"I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day," Michael Schill, Oregon's president, said in a campuswide email on Tuesday. 

"I do believe that we can no longer afford to debate the incident and must instead move forward and implement a comprehensive set of policies to ensure that all of our students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence and feel confident should allegations of misconduct be brought forth they will be dealt with fairly, effectively and expeditiously."

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