Maryland guard Dez Wells has filed a lawsuit against Xavier, his former school, and the school’s president, Father Michael Graham, in federal court seeking damages for what Wells alleges was a wrongful expulsion last summer.
The lawsuit was first reported by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.
According to Wetzel, Wells alleges in the suit that Xavier failed to follow their own policies when they expelled him following a false allegation of a sexual assault.
“From the moment this nightmare began, I’ve been trying to get everyone to understand that I am innocent,” Wells said in a statement given to Yahoo! by his attorney Peter Ginsberg. “The supposed leaders at Xavier destroyed my reputation. It needs to make this right. Xavier needs to set the record straight.”
A quick summation of what happened last summer: Wells was accused of sexually assaulting a student, which resulted in his expulsion from the University. But there was so little evidence that local prosecutors not only declined to file charges, but they went to the media to voice their displeasure with how Xavier handled the case. Hamilton (OH) County prosecutor Joseph Deters called in “fundamentally unfair” and “seriously flawed”.
A week after the news broke, Wells told CBSSports.com the same story that is in the lawsuit. A game of ‘Truth or Dare’ led Wells’ accuser bringing him back to her room, where she asked him if he had a condom before they had sex. The next day, she reported to campus police that she had been sexually assaulted. Cincinnati police investigated but declined to press charges. Deters still decided to look into the case, which is where the crux of Wells’ lawsuit begins. From Yahoo!:
Deters, according to the suit, quickly “developed serious concerns about [the] truthfulness of the allegations.” He left messages with Father Graham, the Xavier president, in an effort to convey those concerns but the messages were not returned, the suit alleges. He later discussed with another Xavier official and instructed his concerns be passed on Graham.
Before the prosecutor finished his work and a grand jury cleared Wells, however, the player was called before Xavier’s University Conduct Board, where the lawsuit alleges a group of administrators, faculty and students “impermissibly placed the burden on Wells to prove his innocence.”
The suit runs through a litany of what it alleges are breaches of the UCB rules and procedures. It also hammers the group for either dismissing or ignoring the concerns of the prosecutor’s office, failing to wait for “vital laboratory tests” and allowing for just a brief, two-day appeal process. It also alleged UCB members “had received woefully inadequate training” to make a ruling on these kinds of cases.
The complicating factor here was that Xavier was already being investigated for the way that they had handled previous sexual assault allegations. As Ginsberg told Yahoo! Sports, “it was much more anxious to appease the Department of Education then satisfy its own obligations to fairness for its own students. Unfortunately, Dez was the sacrificial lamb,” He also added, “it should have been clear to university officials on their own that the accusations were fictitious.”
None of the information that Wetzel provided about the lawsuit that Wells filed is new.
It’s not a secret that Wells — and many others, including this writer — believes that he was railroaded by a University that was looking to cover their own behind.
Kudos to Wells for bringing the fight to them.
A sexual assault allegation is serious. An expulsion as a result is even more so. The fact that Wells is a public figure who will forever be one simple google search away from being assumed to be a rapist is tragic and unfair.
Xavier owed it to him to be more diligent.