University of Oregon settles lawsuit over rape allegations

AP News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2015 12:49 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The University of Oregon has agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a student who claimed she was sexually assaulted last year by three basketball players.

The 18-year-old woman, who is identified in the suit as Jane Doe, on Tuesday dismissed all claims against the university. Last week, she also dismissed all claims against head basketball coach Dana Altman.

According to the settlement agreement with the university, the school will also waive her tuition, housing and student fees for four years.

The suit — which alleged the school was negligent, violated her civil rights and privacy — was filed in January in federal court in Eugene.

"The underlying incident that gave rise to the litigation is an affront to each and every one of us," UO president Michael H. Schill said in a letter to the campus community. "In approving this settlement, it is my hope that we focus our attention and considerable expertise on making our campus one on which all students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence."

Schill said the settlement isn't an admission of liability; he said he doesn't believe coaches, administrators or staff acted wrongfully.

In addition to the financial agreement, the school will pursue a policy change requiring all transfer applicants to report any disciplinary history at prior schools.

In the lawsuit, the woman said Altman knew when he recruited one of the players, Brandon Austin, that he had been suspended from Providence College in Rhode Island due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The coach denied he knew it.

Austin and the two other players told authorities they had consensual sex with the woman, and prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to file charges. The players were not charged with a crime.

But the case caused outrage on campus and beyond, and the three players were kicked off their team and suspended from the university.

The case also pushed the school to pursue steps to combat sexual violence on campus. The university is in the process of hiring a new campus coordinator and other staff to combat and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence. The school has also executed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Eugene about how Eugene police and the university will share information to ensure timely reporting and investigation of sexual assault offenses.

Regarding the claims against the coach, the school said "we are pleased that the claims against Dana Altman have been dismissed."