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College athlete cleared of rape charges but remains expelled

College athlete cleared of rape charges but remains expelled

Xavier University expelled one of its most promising basketball players after another student accused him of rape. After local prosecutors presented its evidence against the basketball player last week, a grand jury declined to indict him on any charges.

However, Xavier University refused to reevaluate its decision to expel the student. This case illustrates how damaging accusations of a sex crime can be, even if unfounded.

After another student accused the basketball player of raping her, the university convened a student conduct board. The board included administrators, faculty members, and other university students. During the board’s hearing, both students prepared their sides of the story. Despite the gravity of the accusations and the potential penalty of expulsion, the university did not allow the athlete to appear with an attorney.

The board decided that the athlete had committed a serious conduct code violation and expelled him. Although the athlete appealed, the university held to its decision.

When a grand jury considers whether to indict a suspect, it is only looking at whether the government has enough evidence of a crime to establish probable cause. Probable cause requires only a reasonable amount of suspicion that the allegations are probably true. This is a much lower bar than the government would have to meet at trial. The evidence in this prosecution apparently did not even rise to the level required in a grand jury proceeding.

This case is another reminder that sex crime applications have very serious ramifications. Even though the government dropped all charges, the athlete remains expelled at the very beginning of a new school year. This will interrupt both his academic progress and athletic performance during what would have been his sophomore year.

Source:, “Deters: No charges against former Xavier player Dez Wells,” Aug. 28, 2012

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