January 11, 2018 08:47 AM
An attorney for Reggie Lynch on Wednesday said the star center on the University of Minnesota Gophers basketball team "categorically and vehemently" denies allegations of sexual misconduct made against him in October.
Two women have come forward with separate allegations that they were sexually assaulted by Lynch in April of 2016.
"Reggie Lynch categorically denies all of these allegations in both instances," attorney Ryan Pacyga said at a news conference Wednesday, adding Lynch never had sexual contact with either woman.
Pacyga said those include an alleged incident from April 7, 2016, occurring off campus, in which a woman said Lynch forced her into vaginal and oral intercourse. A second woman alleges Lynch digitally penetrated her without her consent on Apr. 28, 2016, Pacyga said.
The specific discussion of the two allegations by Pacyga drew an angry response from one of the accusers. The woman accusing Lynch in the April 28 incident issued a statement Wednesday night.
The statement was released on the Twitter account of sexual assault awareness advocate Abby Honold, who has befriended the woman and has been critical of the university's response to the allegations.
"The specifics of my case being discussed is a violation of the privacy I've tried to maintain during this process," reads the statement from the accuser, who wished to be identified by her first name Alex.
"I'm appalled and traumatized by how casually Ryan Pacyga discussed the details of one of the worst nights of my life, with no respect for me as a victim, or any regard for how this would impact me.
"The apparent lack of respect for victims of sexual assault in general made me fearful to report. I will continue to tell the truth about what happened to me and I appreciate all the support I've been receiving."
Lynch plans to appeal the university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action investigative findings that have led to a suspension and recommendation for expulsion. Pacyga said he had filed requests for hearings and is working with the university to schedule them.
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A panel of three university officials would hear the appeal and make a decision. Beyond that, a further appeal could be made to the university provost.
At the news conference, Pacyga lamented a Title IX system he said doesn't provide due process and can decide whether an accused is guilty or innocent without hard evidence.
A statement from the university said the school is committed to allowing for due process for all parties involved in such situations.
"While we can't speak to any one specific student discipline matter, the University is committed to allowing for due process for all parties involved throughout a Student Conduct Code disciplinary process," the statement read.
He said the allegations against Lynch amount to a he-said, she-said case.
"If I say you ran a red light, and you say I was the one that ran the red light, and we're both saying 'no we didn't,' and there's no other witnesses … how can you find by a preponderance of evidence that I did it?" Pacyga said. "In a he-said, she-said, how can you say one is more likely than the other? That's what title IX is doing. That's why everybody ought to be scared. We need a correction."
He said Lynch faces a tougher road to clear his name in part because of the #MeToo movement that has empowered women to come forward to tell their stories of sexual misconduct or assault.
Pacyga compared the current national climate on sex misconduct to the level of fear the country had when it established Japanese internment camps established during World War II.
"This is not a perfect analogy, but it seems to me it's a little bit like where there was all of this hysteria when World War II started and we had the Japanese internment camps," he said. "And everybody rushed out of fear to do something like that. We look back now and we think, 'Oh my god, what were we doing?'
"How wrong was that? To assume all of them guilty and a threat and everything else, and lock 'em up, and that's what we're going to do. It's a little bit like that right now."
To tell the story of the falsely accused, Pacyga wondered if there could be a 'what about me' movement in response to the #MeToo movement.
Watch the full news conference below:
The university's equal opportunity office recommended Lynch's expulsion Jan. 3 after finding him responsible for sexual misconduct in the April 7, 2016 incident.
The office issued that finding the same day as a separate recommendation that he be suspended and barred from campus until 2020 in an unrelated incident alleged to have happened three weeks later in his dorm room.
Lynch was suspended from games last week but allowed to continue practicing while he appeals.
The school says federal privacy protections prohibit it from sharing information related to any specific student discipline matter.
In May 2016, Lynch was arrested on suspicion of raping a 19 year old woman in a campus apartment. The EOAA investigation found the incident was likely consensual. Lynch was cleared and no charges were filed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated: January 11, 2018 08:47 AM
Created: January 10, 2018 12:23 PM
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