February 15, 2018 06:33 PM
Embattled Gophers center Reggie Lynch's time at the University of Minnesota appears to be over.
Appearing at a news conference Thursday with his attorney ahead of a scheduled hearing regarding accusations of sexual assault, Lynch said in today's climate people will always assume someone accused of sexual assault is guilty.
His attorney, Ryan Pacyga, told reporters Lynch will not appear at the appeal hearings because he feels the panel is biased and not trained properly.
That means Lynch will accept the recommended punishment of expulsion. Pacyga said Lynch hopes to continue to pursue his basketball career elsewhere. Lynch again denied the accusations of sexual assault that have been leveled against him.
"I feel scared that, in today's climate, this is the world we live in today," Lynch said. "I am angry there is no real way for me to defend myself and I feel helpless and powerless. This is such a sad way to end my time with my teammates and coaches. I will have great memories of my experiences with my Gopher family."
Lynch clinched his mother's hand for most of the nearly hour-long press conference.
"I believe 100 percent and want to show my full support to Reggie," she said.
Pacyga carefully picked apart the allegations facing his client. Both alleged encounters occurred in April 2016 – one with a girl in his dorm room, and the other with a different girl off campus.
Pacyga pointed out inconsistencies in their stories, including how the accuser claimed Lynch locked her in his dorm room during the encounter.
"Guess what? There was no lock on the door," Pacyga told reporters. "The door didn't even have a lock on it."
Pacyga's biggest argument is not with the accusers, as much as it is with the university.
If Lynch would have appealed the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action's recommendation for expulsion, he would have appeared Thursday in front of a three-member panel that went through training Pacyga said favors accusers.
"The reality is if Reggie walked into the hearings with what's happened here, he doesn't stand a fair chance," the attorney said.
In an emailed statement Thursday afternoon, a university spokesperson said the school's process includes protections for all parties involved in misconduct cases, including allowing the accused the chance to challenge the allegations with the help of an attorney.
"The university also cannot try cases in public under the law, nor should it," the statement reads. "Maintaining the privacy of all parties is the right thing to do."
Lynch was in his final year at the university, and the basketball season is coming to a close next month.
Pacyga said his client has enough credits to graduate, but whether that's a possible is unclear.
The university's full statement on the matter:
The University's values are crystal clear for what it expects of our students. These values are written into University policy and are made clear to every member of the University community. Additionally, the University has processes in place that include protections for all parties involved in misconduct cases. These include allowing the accused the opportunity to challenge allegations with the benefit of an attorney. The University also cannot try cases in public under the law, nor should it. Maintaining the privacy of all parties is the right thing to do.
The President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct only strengthens our position regarding zero tolerance for sexual misconduct as well as our commitment to fair due process for all parties involved.
Updated: February 15, 2018 06:33 PM
Created: February 15, 2018 11:44 AM
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