EUGENE, Ore. — The Lane County District Attorney is speaking out about his decision not to file charges against three University of Oregon basketball players named in a rape investigation.
The question on everyone’s minds is why did the UO wait months to respond to rape allegations against three basketball players.
District Attorney Alex Gardner says his office had no interactions with the UO until after it decided not to file charges in this case.
Gardner says the celebrity status of Damyean Dotson, Brandon Austin and Dominic Artis did not play a role in his office’s investigation into an alleged rape.
“The University of Oregon hasn’t been involved in our process other than you know the police department the University of Oregon PD, but no, they’re not involved in our process in any way,” Gardner said.
In fact, deputy attorneys reviewed the case, so Gardner wasn’t informed about the investigation or decision to not file charges until information surfaced this week. But after reviewing the case himself, he says it was clear his team made the right decision.
“It’s not a matter of picking sides, in terms of I like this version or that version of the story. The question is what is the evidence that makes this the obvious truth of the matter?” Gardner said.
Gardner says it wasn’t a question of whether sexual contact between the alleged victim and suspects happened but rather if the sex was consensual or forced. And after the Eugene Police Department interviewed everyone involved, Gardner says there wasn’t enough evidence for a jury to convict the athletes on rape charges.
“As emotional and horrific as this all sounds and wrong as it all sounds, proving the criminal elements would not be possible given this evidence. It just simply wouldn’t be possible,” Gardner said.
The DA says there wasn’t one specific incident in the investigation that led to the office’s decision to not press charges, but rather all the evidence combined.
“The critical piece here is the nature of the interaction with the victim and the trauma to the victim and the potential impact on the other lives involved. I know the community and the media react as though the principle focus is really on the basketball, but that’s irrelevant to us,” Gardner said.
Gardner says if information about this investigation were released before it were complete, it would make the case unimaginably messy.
Tobin Klinger, the Senior Director of Public Affairs Communications at the UO released a statement Tuesday evening, saying:
“The University of Oregon first learned of the allegations from the alleged victim’s father on March 9, as reported in the released police report. Upon receiving information such as this, the university’s procedures are to immediately provide services and support. 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. 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.”