When the Eugene Police Department revealed Monday that the woman who accused three Oregon players of rape filed a police report March 13, that raised an obvious question that initially went unanswered by the school.
Why were point guard Dominic Artis and small forward Damyean Dotson allowed to play in two NCAA tournament games the following week even when they were under investigation?
Oregon finally addressed that question Tuesday night in a statement released by university spokesman Tobin Klinger. The statement explained that Oregon coach Dana Altman took no immediate action against Artis, Dotson or transfer Brandon Austin at the request of the police.
"Prior to the NCAA Tournament, the Eugene Police Department told the university that if it took investigative or administrative action, it would jeopardize the integrity of the criminal investigation and, therefore, requested that the university not take action at that time," Klinger said in the statement. "The university received the police report on April 24, after the criminal investigation was complete and the District Attorney declined to prosecute. Due to Federal privacy laws, the university cannot provide further details regarding its actions at this time.”
Assuming the timeline in the statement was accurate, the request from the police put Altman in a difficult spot. Defying the police by suspending his players probably wouldn't have been wise, yet he had to know he was opening himself up to further criticism by playing Dotson and Artis in an opening-round victory over BYU and a round of 32 loss to Wisconsin.
Dotson, Artis and Austin have since been banned from all team activities because of a rape investigation that the Lane County District Attorney's office has since decided not to prosecute due to lack of evidence. A female Oregon student accused the three players of sexually assaulting her twice in a bathroom at a party thrown March 9 and again at the apartment belonging to Dotson and Artis later that night. Dotson and Artis acknowledged to police that the encounters took place but insisted they were consensual.
The Lane County District Attorney's office sent a statement to the Oregonian explaining its decision not to prosecute the three players.
The statement noted there is no evidence the alleged victim was too intoxicated to consent, she had opportunities to ask for help after the first and second alleged attacks and she was able to get the players to stop three times during the alleged assaults. Also noted in the statement was the fact the alleged victim had consensual sex with Artis the morning after the alleged assaults and had sex with one of his teammates that same day.
The future of Dotson, Artis and Austin at Oregon remains unclear. ESPN.com reported earlier in the week that Artis intends to transfer. If all three players have played their last games for the Ducks, Oregon will return just four players from last season's NCAA tournament team, two of whom barely played.
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