Last summer's biggest story has now leaked over in to 2013. With just a couple of months remaining before games are played in earnest, former Xavier forward Dez Wells has filed suit against the school for the manner in which his expulsion and the resulting fallout were handled. Specifically Wells is alleging "Father Graham's wanton failure to abide by the duty and obligation to adhere to [school] policies in good faith" has damaged his reputation to the extent that he feels entitled to damages for "Xavier's false, malicious, and injurious actions and statements."
If you have forgotten, or blocked from your mind, exactly what happened last year, here's a quick summation (all the detail can be found here). Wells was originally accused of raping a female student in July of 2012, on August 3rd of that year, he was expelled. The story really broke on August 21st, when most of the details came to light. Shortly after that, Wells case went before the grand jury in Hamilton County. What was, at that point, a PR problem for Xavier became a full on nightmare when, not only was Wells completely cleared of any wrongdoing, Hamilton Co prosecutor Joe Deters took to 700 WLW to hammer the Xavier brass. Most damning to Xavier, Deters himself said that Wells' reputation had been tainted by the rampant speculation and allegation.
Wells went on to play at Maryland last year after the NCAA, somewhat surprisingly, allowed him to transfer and play in the same school year. There, Dez averaged 13/5/3 and poured in 30 in a win over Duke late in the year. Apparently though, the Xavier situation weighed on Wells' mind. On August 20th of this year, he filed suit against the University.
The document detailing the lawsuit itself is a brutal takedown of Xavier University, and Father Graham in particular. With Peter Ginsberg and Marlyn Shiverdecker collaborating to represent Wells, it seems no stone has gone unturned. Much as Banners wrote last August 28th, Ginsberg and Shiverdecker accuse Xavier of overreacting to pressure from the Department of Education in their aggressive pursuit of Wells. After repeated phone calls from Joe Deters in which he informed the University that the witness against Wells was not credible and asked them to drop the case, the administration "for fear that it would once again alienate OCR [the Dept of Education], and because of Father Graham's own political concerns, Xavier ignored Deters' request and advice."
The University Conduct Board, according to the lawsuit, then made things even worse by requiring Wells to prove that the encounter on the night in question was consensual. In essence, Wells was presumed guilty unless he could somehow prove otherwise. In front of a board with "woefully inadequate training to handle such matters" and with the woman in question having failed to cooperate with police to ensure an effective evidence kit was collected, Wells was faced with an argumentum ad ignorantiam with no way of proving his innocence.
Of course, the UCB, required by its own handbook to follow a preponderance of the evidence, failed to call any witness to aid Wells, was never made aware that the sexual evidence kit had returned no suggestion of rape, and didn't bother to consult the lab results. Joe Deters findings that no rape or sexual assault had occurred was also dismissed by the UCB. With the cards stacked against Wells, according to the suit, he lost and was expelled. The suit goes on to allege that "the UCB's finding was not supported by the evidence and the sanctions imposed against Wells were arbitrary and capricious."
That's hardly all though. The victim has since recanted and admitted that no assault took place. The lawsuit maintains that Xavier's "defamatory" statement and continued insistence that Wells committed a heinous act have cause "significant damage" to the young man. "As a direct and proximate result of Xavier's actions, has been publicly humiliated, felt ashamed, emotionally distraught and violated.The conduct of Xavier demonstrated the intent to cause, or disregard of a substantial probability of causing, Wells severe emotional distress." For those of you not familiar with court proceedings, that is language of someone seeking a good deal of punitive damages.
Wells' attorneys go on to lay out five separate charges of libel and two more charges that the UCB intentionally acted in a manner intended to prevent Wells from properly defending himself. The University has yet to respond to these allegations, but they are clearly facing a legal team prepared to fight a very public battle.
So, once again, we enter the third week of August with Xavier wrapped up in a scandal that is has a large part in creating. Last year was a massive public relations failure on the part of the administration, to the point that is has now gotten them sued. We will see shortly whether any lessons have been learned.