Former University of Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus is suing his alma mater on grounds that he was used as a scapegoat during a sexual assault investigation that resulted in his temporary expulsion.
Cephus is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit filed in a federal court. The suit accuses the defendants of violating his due process rights, violating Title IX provisions and breach of contract.
In August of 2018, Cephus was expelled from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for violating its nonacademic misconduct code as part of a Title IX investigation following his arrest on second- and third-degree sexual assault charges. A jury later acquitted him and he was reinstated during the 2019 season. Cephus has since been drafted by the Detroit Lions who took him in the fifth round of the 2020 draft.
“While we are reviewing the complaint filed by Mr. Cephus, we’re confident UW-Madison followed appropriate processes in this matter,” university spokesperson John Lucas said in a statement that was carried by the Wisconsin State Journal.
Cephus’ lawyer, Andrew Miltenberg, said that he’s been told by NFL agents and draft analysts that Cephus would have been taken earlier if it were not for his expulsion.
“He wants to set a precedent so that schools are more careful and more diligent in how they proceed on these cases and not just sort of rushing ahead to judgment when they know for a fact they don’t have all the evidence,” Miltenberg said.
The complaint argues that UW was “seeking to push for harsh male prosecutions in order to remedy its long-standing failure to address sexual assault complaints” and that Cephus’ status as a well-known football player made him “the perfect candidate for the university to prove its investigative efforts and punish accused males in a high-profile way.”
Defendants include Chancellor Rebecca Blank, campus Title IX coordinator Lauren Hasselbacher and the UW System Board of Regents.
The criminal charges stem from an incident at Cephus’ Madison apartment in April of 2018. Cephus engaged in sexual acts with two 18-year-old Wisconsin students who later said they were raped and too drunk to consent.
Cephus lawsuit argues that the university should have delayed the investigation until the conclusion of the criminal trial, which included relevant evidence that wasn’t released until after the case was closed.