$800K, free tuition settlement reached over suit against UO on handling of rape case

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The woman who filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon over how it handled rape accusations against Ducks basketball players last year has reached a settlement with the school.

The woman, who is still a student at UO, accused Brandon Austin, Damyean Dotson, and Dominic Artis of sexually assaulting her at a house party and at a nearby apartment in Eugene on March 8, 2014.

In January 2015, it was announced she was suing the school, as well as the men's head basketball coach, Dana Altman.

The university announced Tuesday morning that they'd reached a settlement of $800,000, free tuition at the school, and a policy change on how the UO accepts transfer students with a disciplinary history.

The lawsuit claimed Altman and the university created an "unsafe environment" on campus when they recruited Austin to play for the Ducks in January 2014, knowing he was under investigation for an alleged sex crime at Providence College in Rhode Island. The plaintiff claimed Altman and the university knew the risk Austin carried with him that he could potentially prey on other students.

Austin was accused but never charged in the Rhode Island investigation. Austin, Dotson and Artis were never charged with a crime at UO.

Jane Doe's lawyer announced Tuesday that they had reached a settlement, and that they would file to dismiss the case against the university.

"The underlying incident that gave rise to the litigation is an affront to each and every one of us," said University President Michael Schill, "As president I will not tolerate the victimization of any member of our community. Period."

Schill went on to say that the settlement does not mean he feels any of the university staff members were in the wrong, rather that it was time for the school to move forward and put new policies in place when handling allegations of sexual misconduct. | Read Pres. Schill's statement

"I am so glad to have this case behind me today and to be able to focus on my studies," Doe said in a statement released through her lawyer. "I am very grateful for the outpouring of support that I have received from students, faculty, and other organizations." | Doe's statement

Over the weekend, KATU News' Joe Douglass confirmed the lawsuit against Altman was being dropped.

"Our client has agreed to dismiss her claims against Dana Altman and she looks forward to concluding the rest of her matter shortly. We will make no other statements at this time," her lawyer told KATU News.

A spokesperson with the university released the following statement:

"We are pleased that the claims against Dana Altman have been dismissed, and we look forward to bringing this matter to a close. We cannot make additional statements at this time."

Statement from University of Oregon President Michael Schill:

Dear members of the campus community,

For more than 11 months, our university has been involved in litigation that has fueled mistrust and divided our community. Today I would like to share with you that the University of Oregon has entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiff in the "Jane Doe" matter. In approving this settlement, it is my hope that we focus our attention and considerable expertise on making our campus one on which all students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence.

The underlying incident that gave rise to the litigation is an affront to each and every one of us. As president I will not tolerate the victimization of any member of our community. Period.

As an attorney and former law school dean, I want to be very clear about what this settlement means and what it does not mean. I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators, or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day. I do believe that we can no longer afford to debate the incident and must instead move forward and implement a comprehensive set of policies to ensure that all of our students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence and feel confident should allegations of misconduct be brought forth they will be dealt with fairly, effectively, and expeditiously.

Earlier this month, we took the first action in this new effort to promote campus safety by launching a new search for a Associate Vice President and Title IX Coordinator who will have direct responsibility for ensuring that we have robust and effective programs to prevent, investigate, and address allegations of sexual harassment and violence. The Title IX Coordinator will also help coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors to ensure that effects of the sexual violence are remedied. This position will report to me and to the Vice President for Student Life.

We cannot wait for the new Title IX Coordinator to join us before implementing new programs on sexual violence and harassment. So, we are announcing a set of new investments to hire additional staff (professional and student peers) who will work with our students and existing staff to prevent sexual violence and harassment. We will also add an additional professional who will focus on the investigation of allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

Each of these responses is consistent with the recommendations of the University Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support, and the President's Review Panel. I would like to express my gratitude to the faculty members, staff, outside experts, administrators, and students who served on these two important bodies. Their careful work enabled me to act swiftly upon taking office just last month.

In closing and at the risk of redundancy, I want to be clear. The University of Oregon will not tolerate sexual assault or sexual violence. We will teach our students to respect each other. We will teach them to look out for each other. We will show our students that we have zero tolerance for sexual violence by expeditiously investigating and taking action without sacrificing due process. We will not rest until we succeed.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Plaintiff's statement released by her lawyer:

"I am so glad to have this case behind me today and to be able to focus on my studies. I am very grateful for the outpouring of support that I have received from students, faculty, and other organizations. The response from the UO community has been remarkable and I know that the increased awareness around these issues on our campus can only serve to help us. I would be remiss to not specifically thank the Dean of Students Office and my therapist from the UCTC and other UCTC personnel for their continued assistance throughout this experience. Without those services, it would have been very difficult to stay in school here during these events and for that I am very grateful."

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