Cephus sex assault accusers hire prominent attorney

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two women who accused Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus of sexual assault hired a prominent attorney to investigate university officials' decision to reinstate him following his acquittal.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday that the women have hired Colorado-based attorney John Clune. He represented Deborah Ramirez, who last year accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her in the 1980s.

Clune also represented a woman who accused then-NBA star Kobe Bryant of sexual assault in 2004 and took on Florida State University in 2015, alleging the school failed to protect a former student who accused quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her. The university settled for $950,000.

He won an undisclosed amount in a settlement with Baylor University after filing a lawsuit in 2017 on behalf of women who claimed at least 31 football players committed more than 50 acts of rape in a four-year span.

Cephus' accusers said he sexually assaulted them at his apartment in April 2018. He was charged that August and kicked off the football team

University officials reinstated Cephus and let him rejoin the football team after a jury acquitted him last month. He played in the team's opener Aug. 30 against South Florida.

Clune told the State Journal that the decision to allow Cephus to return to school was "unprecedented." He said Cephus' accusers weren't involved in the process to determine whether he could return, a violation of their due process rights under Title IX, the federal law requiring colleges to quickly respond to sexual misconduct reports, and the Clery Act, a federal law that requires colleges to report campus crime statistics.

"They've done either a horrible job at explaining their decision-making or they did something illegal," Clune said. "Right now it looks like both, but that's what we've been hired to find out."

University officials say they communicated with Cephus' accusers about the readmission decision. Clune said the university sent a "vague" letter to his clients that doesn't explain Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank's basis for readmitting Cephus.

The receiver's attorney, Stephen Meyer, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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