A former University of Memphis defensive lineman is suing his university after he was suspended over a sexual assault accusation that was eventually dropped by local police.
The football player, who will not be named by The Daily Wire because he has not been charged with any crimes, was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student in 2017. He was arrested just before the school was to play the Naval Academy’s football team. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that the charges were dropped eight months later after the state could not “carry its burden of proof on to the elements of this offense.” The student still faced disciplinary charges at UM, which require a lower burden of proof and do not have the same protections as the regular legal system.
The student alleges in his lawsuit that UM never completed its investigation, but suspended him from the university and cut him from the football team, causing him to lose his scholarship. Because the school still hasn’t made a decision as to his culpability, he cannot appeal UM’s punishment. He wrote in his lawsuit that he lost his “scholarship, reputation, job prospects and a potential career in the NFL” due to the university’s lack of due process in its procedures. While the student is seeking monetary damages, he mainly wants his disciplinary record cleared and to have the accusation completely removed from school files.
He said the school never spoke to his roommate, who was apparently present during the alleged sexual assault and would say no crime occurred.
The student further claims that race may have been a factor in his treatment. He alleged in his lawsuit that after a white student was indicted on rape charges in 2017 — the same year the football player, who is black, was arrested — he was able to return to campus. The football player was barred from campus after he was arrested.
UM President M. David Rudd also released a statement after the white student’s indictment saying, “we are a community and country governed by the rule of law, and we will follow those laws and provide due process throughout.”
“When the facts of investigations are established and evidence gathered, we have not hesitated to take the harshest position possible for criminal activity on our campus,” the statement added.
Conversely, when the football player was arrested, a statement from the university did not mention due process.
The student’s story is not uncommon among those accused of rape and sexual assault on college campuses. Schools sometimes suspend investigations while police investigate, but often, even after police dismiss charges for lack of evidence, schools will continue to punish the accused student. For example, late last year a University of Cincinnati student settled with his former university after the school suspended him even though police declined to charge him. The school didn’t allow the student to cross-examine the witnesses or evidence against him and credited the accuser’s story even though she changed it repeatedly. The student eventually had his record cleared and was awarded $47,000 from the school.