PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A student who said she was sexually assaulted by three members of the University of Oregon men's basketball team sent an open letter to the school newspaper in which she asserts the athletic department prioritizes winning over student safety.
The statement was published Thursday in the Daily Emerald (http://is.gd/wAYRZ2 ). John Clune, a Colorado-based attorney who also represented the woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape, confirmed to The Associated Press that he sent the letter to the paper and the student continues to take classes at the university.
The statement marks the unidentified woman's first public comment on the matter. The woman met the players at a party March 8, the same night the Ducks finished the regular season. The woman's father soon called police.
The university was informed of the ensuing investigation but allowed two of the players, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, to compete in the NCAA tournament. The third player, Brandon Austin, could not suit up because of NCAA transfer rules.
Investigators determined in late April there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute the players. Though they were not charged with a crime, the players were kicked off the team last month.
The past few months have, undeniably, been the hardest and most challenging time in my life, the woman's letter states. This is such an overwhelming experience and one that I hope that no other student on campus ever has to live through.
The letter criticizes Coach Dana Altman for recruiting Austin as a transfer. A prized recruit for Providence College, Austin was suspended at the beginning of his freshman season in November. Though there were rumors that Austin had been suspended over a sexual incident, Providence officials and coaches declined to disclose the specific reason for Austin's absence, even to Altman.
The Wall Street Journal eventually broke the news March 18 that Austin had been investigated for an alleged sexual assault while at Providence.
I know a lot of people are angry. I am angry, too, the woman wrote. I am angry with the culture that appears to exist in our athletic department that prioritizes winning over safety of our students. I cannot fathom how our basketball coach recruited someone who was in the middle of a suspension for another sexual assault to come to Eugene.
Altman said last month that in retrospect, he should have delved more deeply into why Austin never played for Providence.
UO spokeswoman Julie Brown said Thursday that the university is pleased that the woman is continuing her education and that her letter praises the support she received from the dean of students' office.
There have been many comments made by individuals not directly involved and affected by the alleged incident until today's open letter to the Daily Emerald, she said. We sympathize with the challenging position that she finds herself in and support her right to express herself.
EUGENE, Ore. The woman who was allegedly raped by three University of Oregon basketball players last month released a statement through her attorney Thursday, opening up for the first time about the case.
The young woman, also a UO student, said the past few months have been the hardest and most challenging time in her life. The statement released by her attorney was titled, An open letter from a fellow Duck, and also addressed the university's response and explanations after her case surfaced.
On March 8, Brandon Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis allegedly took the woman into a bathroom at an off-campus house party and forced her to have sex with them. She told investigators the men raped her again when she went with them to an apartment.
UO President Michael Gottfedson later said that the school knew about the rape allegations before two NCAA games on March 20 and 22, but still allowed Artis and Dotson to play. Austin was not yet eligible to play, because he was a transfer.
I know a lot of people are angry. I am angry, too. I am angry with the culture that appears to exist in our athletic department that prioritized winning over safety of our students, the woman's letter says.
Gottfredson said the basketball players were not suspended until April 26 because police asked the university not to take any action against the students during the investigation.
UO received the police report on April 24. Athletic Director Rob Mullens said he did not read it until April 29.
The woman also questioned why the athletic department had recruited Austin to the Ducks basketball team, given his previous troubles at Providence College.
I cannot fathom how our basketball coach recruited someone who was in the middle of a suspension for another sexual assault to come to Eugene, she said.
After the allegations about all three players surfaced in Eugene, many students protested on campus. They pushed for answers to why the athletic department waited so long to respond to the case and worried that the school s silence was a sign they were willing to allow this type of behavior.
The alleged victim's letter mirrored those concerns.
Iknow this has stirred up a lot of issues on campus and some of them are bigger than my incident. My sincere hope, though, is that as a school UOcan get through this and come out in a better place at the end, her letter says.
The woman's letter was also submitted to UO's student-run newspaper, The Daily Emerald.