Former Memphis defensive lineman Ernest Suttles filed a lawsuit against the university this week alleging a breach of contract, denial of due process and Title IX violations less than two weeks after rape charges were dismissed against him, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Suttles, who played for the Tigers from 2014-2017, was arrested on a rape charge just hours before Memphis’ game against Navy in October, 2017. That lawsuit was dismissed last month after prosecutors were unable to “carry its burden of proof on to the elements of this offense,” according to the Commercial Appeal. He was dismissed from the football team shortly after his arrest.
His lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Tennessee, claimed he lost his “scholarship, reputation, job prospects and a potential career in the NFL” after the allegations and his dismissal from the team, per the report. He did not specify an amount he is seeking in damages, and is also attempting to have his disciplinary record wiped clean.
Suttles also claims in the lawsuit that the university treated his case differently than that of a white student who was also indicted on rape charges in 2017. Per the report, Suttles was barred from campus while the white student was allowed to attend classes. The university has also not yet resolved the “Notice of Complaint” it filed against him in 2017.
Suttles recorded 60 total tackles in 33 games for the Tigers throughout his career.
“On October 15, 2017, Ernest Suttles woke up expecting to play in a football game for the University of Memphis against Navy. Instead he was arrested and charged with rape,” his attorney, Blake Ballin, said last month, via the Commercial Appeal. “Although Mr. Suttles has always maintained his innocence, he was summarily removed from the team and barred from campus.
"Mr. Suttles was able to obtain his master's degree remotely, but he certainly missed out on numerous academic, athletic and employment opportunities as a result of these accusations. Twenty months after his arrest the charges against Mr. Suttles were dismissed. Mr. Suttles is relieved by this resolution and looks forward to continuing to be a productive member of this community."
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