Police asked Oregon to delay player discipline amid rape investigation

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Damyean Dotson faced initial charges but lack of evidence led to them being dropped. (USATSI)

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The University of Oregon has explained why it allowed Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis to continue playing in March despite an ongoing investigation into an alleged rape involving those players.

Oregon's statement claims it learned of the allegations on March 9 and that the Eugene Police Department actually instructed the school not to act in the moment for fear of tainting the unfolding investigation.

“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 statement reads. "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.”

The suspension earlier this week of Dotson, Artis and Brandon Austin was revealed to be related to an alleged rape investigation. Dotson was the only one of the three facing charges, but Austin and Artis were also named in the Eugene Police Department's extensive and graphic April 28 report.

The incident in question took place reportedly on March 8.

March 8 was still the thick of college basketball season. In fact, that night was Oregon's regular-season finale, which wound up resulting in a huge 64-57 home win over Arizona. The Ducks would play four more games before their season ended, including two in the NCAA Tournament.

Dotson and Artis played in all those games. Austin, who transferred from Providence in January (after being named in a separate sexual assault allegation/case last November) was sitting out this past season due to redshirt guidelines. The news of this disturbing alleged incident has caused many to wonder why Dotson and Artis were available to play in the final four games of the season.

Two weeks prior to the release of EPD's police report, on April 14, Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner dropped the charges against Dotson, citing a lack of evidence.

Gardner attempted to clear up the timeline of events and shed light on how the case unfolded. He released a statement late Tuesday. In it, he clarifies that this was a "no-file" case, meaning evidence was initially lacking in full to continue with charges against any of the Ducks players.

"The no-file decision is based entirely upon analysis of the available evidence and it's insufficiency to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt," Gardner writes. "A no file decision is not a statement about who we believe or don't believe. It is simply an analysis of the available evidence and its sufficiency to meet the State's burden of proof.

"In this case, it's important to note that the alleged victim and the alleged assailants describe substantially similar sexual activity, timing and order of events," Gardner continues. "The principal differences between the versions of events told by the alleged victim and the alleged assailants centers on the apparent level of victim intoxication and whether and at what point the victim expressed a desire to either not have sex, or stop having sex. For purposes of this investigation, we are equally concerned with evidence that the victim was forcibly compelled, or unable to consent by reason of intoxication."

Gardner also lists off -- you can read the entire response here -- the evidence he had to go with and how it was not strong enough to bring about charges, due in large part to thorough interviews and the alleged victims clarity in recalling most events from the night of the alleged incidents. It's obviously a very sensitive and flammable topic both locally and nationally.

Law enforcement is now through with the case, which has brought about plenty of questions and controversy as well. Oregon's suspended the players indefinitely, and we wait for what will come next. Oregon coach Dana Altman has yet to comment publicly about the alleged incidents.

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