Former Eugene City Councilor Kevin Hornbuckle sent a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education against the University of Oregon and the athletic department for Title IX violations Monday afternoon. The injured parties in Hornbuckle’s complaint include three former Oregon men’s basketball players — Dominic Artis, Brandon Austin and Damyean Dotson — who were investigated for an alleged rape and later kicked off the team.
Title IX is a federal law that “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.”
Hornbuckle emailed the Emerald with his full complaint, which he emailed to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Monday afternoon. An OCR spokesperson told the Emerald he could not confirm the receipt for Hornbuckle’s complaint, per OCR policy.
In addition to the three players, Hornbuckle also listed “prospective students” and “students enrolled at University of Oregon, particularly male students” as parties whose Title IX rights have been violated.
Hornbuckle argues that the alleged rape on March 9 was consensual, citing the dismissal of the case by the District Attorney and the Eugene Police Department for lack of evidence.
As such, he believes that the university’s response to the incident was a violation of Title IX.
“The University of Oregon administration participated in generating a climate of hysteria by failing to defend the three male students, and by very publicly impugning their morals and character,” Hornbuckle wrote.
Hornbuckle said UO president Michael Gottfredson, head men’s basketball coach Dana Altman and athletic director Rob Mullens violated Artis’, Austin’s and Dotson’s privacy and “caused a wave of public hostility,” not just against the three players but against the Ducks basketball program and male students in general.
“Rob Mullens, UO athletic director, suspended the three players after reading the police report, which readily illustrates that the players were engaged in private conduct and in compliance with the university’s student code of conduct,” Hornbuckle wrote.
Hornbuckle provided several examples of what he describes as “public hostility” including Gottfredson’s and Altman’s comments to the media on Friday, reader comments that ensued from newspaper articles and student protests on the UO campus. Hornbuckle believes the university didn’t take into enough account the statements from self-proclaimed witness Kelsy Altson from KATU and KWVA last week that conflict with the police report. Hornbuckle believes that they instead catered to ”misinformation” from Register-Guard columnist Austin Meek regarding the alleged assault (Hornbuckle cites two lines from Meek’s column that he believes aren’t in accordance with the police report).
“President Gottfredsen succumbed to ill-formed public pressure instead of telling the newspaper and the public that the students have a right to privacy and that the student code of conduct does not deign to prescribe socially acceptable sexual activity,” Hornbuckle wrote.
Hornbuckle also took issue with several statements made by UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd when she appeared on Oregon Public Radio on May 7.
In his complaint, Hornbuckle cited several of Freyd’s quotes, including this: ”First of all, we have a lot of people on campus who are themselves survivors of this sort of crime. And when they hear about this it can be very deeply distressing. But even those who have not experienced this crime, many of them feel very hurt by what they understand to be the situation and the process here. And so part of the rally is to create a community of people who are hurting…”
Hornbuckle took issue with implications he interpreted in Freyd’s statement.
“Dr. Freyd states that a crime had been committed, although she knew before and during this interview that the district attorney declined to file charges,” Hornbuckle wrote.
He felt similarly about Freyd’s treatment of Austin, who is currently under investigation for an alleged sexual assault in November 2013 when he was at Providence College.
“Freyd adds that the allegation from Rhode Island against one of the players should have been considered in making the decision whether to issue an email alert to the campus community, especially considering that one of the individuals who was allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct did have a history of a prior complaint,” Hornbuckle cites in the letter.
According to Hornbuckle, Freyd believes Austin should be treated as if he has been twice guilty for sexual assault, even though Austin hasn’t been charged in either case.
Hornbuckle also mentioned the Clery Act, which requires the reporting of crimes such as sexual assault. The Act’s requirements “do not cover the situation occurring off campus between consenting students,” Hornbuckle wrote.
He believes the evidence in the police report indicated consensual sex. Freyd’s behavior in the aftermath of this story, Hornbuckle wrote, “has created a hostile and fearful environment” for college age people wanting to engage in sexual activity.
“Dr. Freyd is clearly engaging in unethical conduct in order to attain funding,” Hornbuckle wrote. “The street term for this is ‘shake down.’ By making inflamatory statements to the press, the administration itself is complicit in this exercise.”
Hornbuckle concluded his complaint saying the “ever expanding definition of sexual assault has created a crisis on university campuses nationwide, and in Canada.”
His complaint to the US Department of Education is a call for federal involvement to restore what he considers “normal channels of discourse and information dissemination.”
“To be sure, it is a dangerous situation when the President of the University of Oregon so fears for his job, and the coach and athletic director too, that they sacrifice the reputations and educations of innocent young men,” Hornbuckle wrote. “The need for federal intervention per Title IX is clear and compelling.”
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415