University of Minnesota Sued by Ex-Players Investigated for Sexual Assault

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2018

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - OCTOBER 10: General view of a Minnesota Golden Gophers helmet seen during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium on October 10, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Nine former University of Minnesota football players are suing the school over its handling of a 2016 sexual assault investigation.

According to Maura Lerner of the Star Tribune, the players allege that the university is guilty of racial and gender discrimination and that it "willfully and maliciously" turned the players into scapegoats.

In 2016, a female student reported she had been raped by then-Minnesota football players Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, Seth Green, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Shenault, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr.

No criminal charged were filed against the players, but five of them were expelled or suspended, and the other five were cleared by the school.

The players are seeking unspecified damages as part of the lawsuit.

Every accused player is black, and the lawsuit states that "race discrimination also played a central role" in an effort to "deflect criticism the university was facing for having previously turned a blind eye to charges of sexual harassment by white males in the University Athletics Department."

The University of Minnesota released a statement in response to the lawsuit and defended its handling of the situation:

"The university thoughtfully and thoroughly responds when faced with disturbing allegations, and provides extensive process to students accused of misconduct, including the opportunity to be heard during thorough investigations, panel hearings, and Provost review. Further, aggrieved students have a right to review by the Minnesota Court of Appeals."

The lawsuit states that the players were "falsely cast as sex offenders," and attorney David Madgett added, "Once you're part of something like this, it does't go away. You're certainly guilty in the eyes of the public, even if ultimately never charged."

Last year, an external review determined that the school properly handled its investigation.