Quintez Cephus Suing Wisconsin over Treatment in Sexual Assault Investigation

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 23, 2021

Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Former University of Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus, who now plays professionally for the Detroit Lions, is suing his former school over its handling of a sexual assault investigation against him while he was a student-athlete.

Per Steve Megargee of the Associated Press, Cephus filed the lawsuit in a Madison, Wisconsin federal court and is accusing the university of "violating his due process rights, violating Title IX provisions and breach of contract."

According to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Dane County (Wisconsin) district attorney's office filed charges against Cephus in 2018.

Those charges were third-degree sexual assault and second-degree sex assault of an intoxicated victim related to two alleged sexual assaults on April 22, 2018, per Genaro C. Armas and Steve Karnowski of the Associated Press.

Two women that Cephus met earlier that day said that Cephus sexually assaulted them while they were too intoxicated to consent, per Ed Treleven of the Wisconsin State Journal. Cephus said he had consensual sexual encounters with both women.

At trial, he testified that he invited teammate Danny Davis into the room after the sexual encounters because he had never had sex with two women before. Cephus said he told Davis to take a picture of the women, but one of the women became angry and told him to delete the photo.

Cephus was acquitted of all charges in August 2019 and reinstated to the school and the team. The Lions selected him in the 2020 NFL draft. 

One of the women has since sued the University of Wisconsin for reversing its previous expulsion decision and allowing him back on the Badger football team.

"The lawsuit filed in federal court in Madison by 'Jane Doe' accused the university and its chancellor of ignoring state and federal law by shutting her out of the process that allowed Cephus to be re-admitted and return to the team," the Associated Press wrote in Sept. 2020.

Per Megargee, Cephus' lawsuit alleges that he would have been drafted earlier and earned more money if he had not been expelled from the university for violating its nonacademic conduct code. The suit argues that the school's Title IX investigation and decision to expel Cephus should have been delayed until after the criminal trial was over and further evidence was released.

Cephus' lawyer, Andrew Miltenburg, told Megargee the 22-year-old is seeking to "set a precedent so that schools are more careful and more diligent in how they proceed on these cases and not just sort of rushing ahead to judgment."

Cephus is seeking "unspecified damages" in his case against the school, per Megargee.