The University of Minnesota has found itself in some legal hot water. Former and current football players filed a federal lawsuit against the school, accusing school officials of discriminating against them during a 2016 sexual assault investigation.
Two years ago, a female student said she was 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. However, the lawsuit claims that the woman is the one who initiated the sexual encounters and changed her story several times after reporting that she was raped.
While none of them were charged with crimes, five of them were suspended or expelled and the other five were cleared by the university.
The lawsuit alleges that the university violated the civil rights of the accused players, who are all black. It claims that they were all used as scapegoats “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 lawsuit also claims that the men suffered severe emotional distress and financial damage from being falsely accused as sex offenders.
Dave Madgett, who is representing the athletes, said they are seeking $45 million in damages from the university.
“I don’t know how you put a value on destroying someone’s life,” he said. “Would these guys have earned $5 million in their lifetimes? I think that’s a fair number. These guys aren’t hirable at [Minneapolis-based] General Mills.”
“Once you’re part of something like this, it doesn’t go away,” he added. “You’re certainly guilty in the eyes of the public, even if ultimately never charged.”
The university is aware of the lawsuit and plans to fight it.
“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. We will vigorously defend the University,” the school said in a statement.