The University of Minnesota paid a $500,000 settlement earlier this year to the student who accused several Gophers football players of sexual assault in fall 2016.
The Star Tribune obtained the settlement Friday through a public records request. The settlement, which was signed and dated in early March, does not describe the circumstances of the case. The woman’s name is also redacted due to state statutes on data privacy. But a source confirmed the settlement is connected to the alleged sexual assault.
The settlement was first reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Settlement documents describe the woman as an undergraduate student who reported to the school that she was a victim of sexual misconduct in fall 2016. It states that she believes the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) “appropriately conducted the disciplinary process” following her report. But, “she believes and has claimed that the University violated her rights relating to events occurring prior to Fall 2016, and as a result, has suffered physical injuries,” the settlement states.
The U denied “any legal responsibilities” for events prior to fall 2016, according to the settlement.
A U spokesman said Friday that state data privacy laws limit what the university can say about legal settlements.
In her case, the woman alleged that as many as a dozen football players had gang-raped her or watched and cheered as others did so at an off-campus party. In their defense, the players said the woman initiated sexual encounters with five Gophers and an underage recruit.
The EOAA interviewed the woman and her alleged attackers and found it “more likely than not” that 10 players violated the school’s student code of conduct.
The woman’s allegations and the university’s handling of the case were met with protests for and against the football players.
Members of the Gophers football team briefly threatened to boycott a Holiday Bowl game in protest after 10 accused players were suspended from the team. The boycott was called off after a confidential university report detailing the sexual assault allegations was leaked to media and posted online. Head coach Tracy Claeys was fired after he expressed support for the players’ protest.
No criminal charges were filed in the end, but four players were expelled and one was suspended for a year but left the program.
The settlement payment was made to Hutchinson Black and Cook, a Colorado-based law firm. In an e-mail to the Star Tribune Friday, attorney Christopher Ford, who signed the settlement, said he could not confirm any details related to the agreement.