New Mexico Settles with Alleged Victim for $200K

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A civil suit filed in February 2015 by a woman who claims she was gang raped by three University of New Mexico students, including two UNM football players, received a $200,000 settlement from the state, according to newly released records.

Courtney Spenser, who alleged she was raped as a freshman in April 2014, first sued UNM in federal court on the Title IX claim that her case was mishandled by the university. The alleged perpetrators were never prosecuted, due to "insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." The three men likewise sued the university, claiming it had botched the case and prevented their names from being cleared. A federal judge dismissed most of their claims, and the three dropped their final one earlier this year.

A formal public records request by the Albuquerque Journal revealed that the settlement was signed in June 2016, after the New Mexico Risk Management Division and Spenser determined doing so would "avoid the time, expense and uncertainties of litigation." It remains unclear how much of the $200,000 was covered by the university itself.

Upon their arrest on the initial rape charges, Crusoe Gongbay and SaQuan Edwards were suspended from the football team. The charges were dropped in June 2014, and the players were reinstated by head coach Bob Davie and former athletic director Paul Krebs that August.

In a written statement, Spencer’s attorney, Brad Hall, defended Title IX, the law passed in 1972 to combat gender discrimination in public education programs that receive federal funding. "Title IX represented a unique set of rights for individuals, with very specific damages against an institution. This settlement did not involve any claims against any alleged perpetrators. Nor did this Federal civil claim have anything to do with standards of proof in State criminal cases. This settlement allowed Ms. Spencer to move forward at the time, and was I think a good framework for everyone to evolve."


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