Former Eugene city councilor files Title IX complaint against UO for Artis, Austin and Dotson’s suspension

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson and Athletic Director Rob Mullens speak with the media about the sexual assault case regarding three Oregon basketball players. The University of Oregon holds a press conference following the recent sexual assault case at the Ford Alumni Center in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, May 9, 2014. (Ryan Kang/Emerald)

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson and Athletic Director Rob Mullens speak with the media about the sexual assault case regarding three Oregon basketball players. The University of Oregon holds a press conference following the recent sexual assault case at the Ford Alumni Center in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, May 9, 2014. (Ryan Kang/Emerald)

Posted by Victor Flores on Tuesday, May. 13 at 12:18 pm.

UPDATE: This story was updated Tuesday evening around 9 p.m. with responses from Austin Meek and Jennifer Freyd, who are both criticized in the complaint at the bottom of this post.

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.

“If after evaluation the Education Department opens an investigation into a complaint, we will inform the institution, the complainant and the public, as appropriate,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

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 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 to KATU and KWVA last week that conflict with the police report. Hornbuckle believes that they instead catered to “misinformation” from people such as the Register-Guard columnist Austin Meek.

Hornbuckle cites two paragraphs from Meek’s May 8 column entitled “Who’s Setting the Message?” that he believes aren’t in accordance with the police report.

“No, the players in question – Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis – weren’t charged with a crime,” Meek wrote in his column. “It’s still disturbing to read how they worked in concert, identifying a woman and, according to the police report, pulling her into multiple encounters over the course of a night.”

The other part of Meek’s story Hornbuckle took issue with:

“The police report makes it clear: Even if authorities were telling the school not to kick up too much dust, the players should have been suspended.”

Hornbuckle said the content in both of Meek’s cited paragraphs aren’t truly what the police report says.

Meek responded to Hornbuckle’s comments in an email to the Emerald Tuesday night.

“As a columnist, part of my job is to interpret information and offer my own opinion,” Meek wrote in his email. “When I wrote that it was clear the players should have been suspended, I wasn’t referencing a literal segment of the police report. It was my own judgment, based on statements from all parties and my understanding of the rules for Oregon athletes.

“The report leaves little doubt that multiple encounters occurred. At one point, the woman describes how ‘all three men again pulled her into the bathroom.’ Regardless of whether those encounters were consensual, the report makes it clear — to me, at least — that the players had a role in facilitating them.”

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 guilty of sexual assault twice, 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.”

Freyd responded to Hornbuckle’s comments via email to the Emerald Tuesday evening.

“It is the right of every American to make Title IX complaints in the case of real or perceived discrimination on the basis of sex,” Freyd wrote. “Federal review of the current situation at the UO may be appropriate. Unfortunately we have a systemic problem of sexual violence in our society.

“All too often the response to allegations of sexual assault is to attack the messenger and blame the victim rather than confront the conditions that create violence. It is the responsibility of public universities to protect their students.”

Freyd was asked for her response to Hornbuckle’s comments saying Freyd believes the basketball players committed a crime on March 9 and that Austin “should be treated as if he is twice guilty.”

“I don’t know how to respond to things I didn’t say,” Freyd wrote in an email.

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 U.S. 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.”

The Emerald contacted the UO and the athletic department for comment Tuesday afternoon. The athletic department had no comment and the UO has not yet responded to the Emerald’s calls and emails.

Update (9:40 a.m. May 15): UO spokesperson Julie Brown told the Emerald that the university will not comment on Hornbuckle’s complaint.

Hornbuckle’s full complaint can be viewed here.

Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415

  • Carter Fritsch

    Can we get a link to the full complaint? It was not included here or in the RG article.

    • Victor Flores

      Just added it.

  • flashsteve

    What business is this of Hornbuckle’s? If the players want to file an appeal or a lawsuit, that is up to them. What if Hornbuckle trying to accomplish other then getting his name back into the headlines?

    • j.d.troughton

      He’s trying to protect vital processes of law that are under threat by vigilante hysteria.

      • Justice4All

        Exactly. I congratulate Hornbuckle for standing up for these young men who were investigated and cleared by the police. “Rape culture” hysteria has destroyed many innocent men. OU’s handling looks eerily familiar to the Duke Lacrosse players travesty in which 3 innocent players were falsely accused of rape that ultimately resulted in the DA being disbarred and the University paying millions of dollars to settle the lawsuit against them. One can only hope this will be the same fate for OU, idiots that they are for caving in to political pressure of gender feminist activists.

    • Kevin Hornbuckle

      Constitutional rights are under assault. I don’t have any interest in getting my name in the headlines. I am getting called all sorts of very ugly names in response to taking this action of filing the Title IX complaint. But until someone stands up for students’ constitutional rights, the sex McCarthyites on campus are going to continue to destroy innocent lives. Individual men who are targeted are intimidated into silence because their futures really are at risk.

      • flashsteve

        You did not respond to either of my points. Why you? These guys are perfectly capable of hiring an attorney and defending themselves. And, the University has a right, as far as I can tell, to not reward (give a scholarship) to an athlete who behaves in the abominable way that these three did towards that young woman. I agree that there does seem to be some question about her role in the whole affair (and that is why they were not charged with a crime), but I don’t think there is any argument that they behaved despicably. They were not expelled from school, only removed from a team representing UO.

        • Kevin Hornbuckle

          The three young men don’t have the freedom to do it because the university has created a hostile environment. The university has no right to violate Title IX. It’s not for you or the university to judge the sex lives of the three men, or that of the woman student.

          • Crazi

            Kevin, you’re full of it. This whole thing is motivated by some absurd political crusade for men’s rights. You couldn’t give a shit about any of the people involved. Interesting that more than 3/4ths of the comments here are all YOURS! You’re not interested in standing back and listening to what other people have to say, you’ve got an agenda plain and simple and these three boys are just convenient pawns for you to push the game forward. You’re ridiculous and it will be fun to watch this peter out into nothing in the days ahead.

          • Kevin Hornbuckle

            Crazi, What is absurd about defending Constitutional rights? You are correct that I am not interested in standing back and listening. Watching our rights get flushed down the toilet of political correctness isn’t something a normal person sits still for. You should do a little research into the lawsuits being brought against universities for violating the rights of male students who are falsely accused. It is interesting reading and the settlements and judgements are quite high.

          • Gman9999

            I agree… The colleges have established themselves a quasi-governmental agencies that receive huge amounts of money from both government and private resources, if they use these resources to trample upon the rights of any individual, them they need to be called out on it.

          • Gman9999

            Men having rights is absurd? Due process under law and people rights are insane?

          • Patrick G

            men don’t deserve human rights?

          • Patrick G

            I agree, Liberals complain bitterly about conservatives wanting to regulate the bedroom while holding onto some shocking double standards, if it is proven to be rape then it is rape but if it isn’t then it is no one else’s business.

    • Gman9999

      If we as a people stand by and individually let anyone tried in the court of public opinion or have their reputation destroyed without due process of law, then we are wrong.

      • flashsteve

        I agree with you in principle. My main issue with Kevin’s filing is that it is paternalistic. Sure, broadcast your opinion. But, why file a legal document? How do you know that these three guys even want his help? They might want the whole thing to just go away, and not have some white liberal ‘help’ them.

        • optimist3

          Why file a legal document? Because it is legal, and moral to do so. Period.

  • joboek747
  • joboek747

    Debating A Feminist About Rape: WARNING: tears & rage ahead!

    • Gman9999

      Please review “Briffaults Law”

  • Kevin Hornbuckle

    Register Guard sports columnist Austin Meek should be specific about what he means by “my understanding of the rules for Oregon athletes.” Please cite a rule that requires athletes to have sex in a manner approved by their coaches or university presidents.

    Also, Austin Meek’s job is to interpret and offer his opinion. Nothing about his job compels him to make statements that encourage the UO to violate the rights of its students.

  • Kevin Hornbuckle

    Dr. Freyd is correct that universities have a responsibility to protect their students from sexual assault. The allegations against the three basketball players are without basis. That is demonstrated in the police report. The university had the responsibility to protect the players. Instead it damaged their reputations, possibly irreversibly. Getting falsely accused of sexual assault, on such magnitude of nation wide media coverage (much of it riddled with misinformation) is a form of sexual assault. For example, if a university president were to hold a press conference covered by national media, to denounce a female athlete for homosexuality, that would be a violation of Title IX and and obvious case of defamation.

    Regarding Dr. Freyd’s remarks about Brandon Austin, you can hear them beginning at min. 5:15 on the Oregon Public Broadcasting radio show published on 7 May 2014.

    “It raises the question, If we’ve got a possible second report on an individual, that’s just, it’s just really scary to us because we know that serial perpetration is our primary safety risk for students.”

    For Dr. Freyd a “report” is cause for fear even if the claims in the report have not been confirmed. If Brandon Austin can be falsely accused in Oregon, he can be falsely accused in Rhode Island.

    • Kevin Hornbuckle

      Freyd also commented:
      “All too often the response to allegations of sexual assault is to attack the messenger and blame the victim rather than confront the conditions that create violence.”

      This is a good opportunity to show how intimidation works, and in this instance relies on an untruth to do its work.

      Freyd wants to characterize me as attacking her, and she wants to characterize me as blaming the “victim.” Rape is such a horrible crime that association with it is a severe liability to one’s reputation. To defend rape would make it appear that one approves of rape and therefore is dangerous.

      Dr. Freyd hides behind professional jargon, for which she is uniquely qualified, to stop anyone from having a clear look at the situation. There was no rape and therefore there is no victim. There is a lot of evidence indicating that the young woman willfully participated in the sexual activity with the three young men.

      “…rather than confront the conditions that create violence.” In this case the conditions that create violence are lying and otherwise misrepresenting the facts. The harm done to the three male students is worse than a physical assault because their reputations are severely damage, possibly forever.

      Generally, the conditions which created the violence was and is the university administration’s failure to put a stop to hysteria. The president could have and should have told the media that students have a right to privacy. Period. But Gottfredson failed to do that and apparently directed the coach and athletic director to dismiss the students from the team. On top of that he, all three of them, made public statements that greatly harmed them. The fact that the campus climate of intimidation prevents the administration from doing its job is the basis of the need for federal intervention.

    • Sports Droppings

      Mr Hornbuckle,

      I am the sports correspondent for A Voice For Men, the most trafficked Men’s Human Rights Site in North America. May conduct an interview with you? We have been focusing for several years on the increasing encroachment upon men’s due process via the rampant sexual hysteria on campuses

      • Kevin Hornbuckle

        Can I get your email and we will make contact that way.

        • Sports Droppings

          Post the FB link if you would. I will respond Monday.

        • Kevin Hornbuckle

          Go to FB and then

  • Alumus

    @Hornbuckle: I can’t help but make comparisons to, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You are standing up for the justice of all students where the UO officials failed.

    Seriously, I can’t believe anyone is OK with how this situation was handled. These players were scapegoats to the media, and feminist academic mania. They should feel ashamed for stoning these men. The players characters are now forever tarnished with a horrific “rape” label. Guilty despite insufficient evidence. As a reminder, thankfully, consenting group sex is not a crime. S and M enthusiasts should be free to express, though the U of O may not necessarily want them on a Franklin Bridge billboard representing the school. Loving? No. Innapropriate? Probably. Who was the women involved? What was her sexual past and history? Is she telling the whole truth? 3 to 1 say no. The point is consentual sex, which there is enough evidence to say it was. Case dismissed in court of law. I am ashamed of the officials representing my alma mater who lacking the character to stand-up against all of the reactionaries.

  • Janet Wilkinson

    I say this from someone in the UK looking at the ridiculous situations and utterly absurd laws that have been passed in order for someone (or in this case three young men) to be labelled and discredited in University. Over here we have something called innocent until proven guilty. We use something called evidence, and if there isn’t any evidence then nothing is done. We certainly don’t put people’s fate in the hands of idiotic teachers and university lecturers. This all seems to started with feminist groups on campuses slowly poisoning the atmosphere, then proceeded from there with production of lots of fake stats, then resulted in sexist idiotic laws being passed. So now we have an environment where if a girl makes one complaint, there is no requirement of evidence, no requirement of proof of even being there at all, all that’s required is for someone to accuse you and you are labelled a rapist and thrown off teams, and in most cases out of the university, just on the word of one person who has not proven anything. I’m sorry but that’s bullshit, why you guys are not rioting over this kind of thing I do not know. Doesn’t this go against your constitution ?