Ex-Wake players cleared, attorney says
Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch sent a letter to the university's community acknowledging that an NBC "Today Show" segment airing Thursday morning will feature a former student who alleged that two former basketball players at the school sexually assaulted her in 2009.
Hatch said that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) would prevent the university from discussing the specifics of the case. But, he added, "I can assure you the university takes these issues seriously, has a well-established Code of Conduct and has procedures for hearing alleged violations of that Code of Conduct. In addition, Wake Forest offers significant resources to support our students in times of need."
The attorney for the two former Wake players said Tuesday night both of his clients were cleared of any wrongdoing by a school hearing and an investigation by the Miami police department into the alleged assault hours after the Demon Deacons were upset by Cleveland State on March 20, 2009, in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Miami.
Winston-Salem attorney Mike Grace told ESPN.com he represented former players Jeff Teague, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, and Gary Clark, in the case that was adjudicated two years ago but is now coming to light again when the accuser appears on the "Today Show". Grace said Teague's agent, Mike Conley, has endorsed Grace speaking on the matter.
According to the police report, the female student said in a statement that she was headed back to her hotel room when she ran into Clark and Teague, and that the two were "asking her questions about performing oral sex."
After entering the bathroom, she was asked to perform oral sex on Clark. She initially refused, but later performed the act because "she was afraid not to," according to the report, which said that Teague walked her back to her room and "hugged" and "kissed" her before he left.
The report said she didn't tell anyone about the incident while she was in Miami, but told Wake Forest campus police a few days later after a friend urged her to do it.
Wake Forest police gathered statements from Clark and Teague and forwarded them to the Miami police department after the accuser filed a complaint in May 2009. Prosecutor Laura Adams decided against filing criminal charges due to the lack of physical evidence in addition to the delay in reporting the incident, the player's denial and no corroborating witnesses.
The accuser also participated in the campus hearing, according to Grace. The accuser's allegations prompted multiple statements from the highest level of the Wake Forest administration and athletic department Tuesday.
Wake coach Dino Gaudio was fired in 2010 by athletic director Ron Wellman despite leading the Demon Deacons to another NCAA tournament appearance and a first-round win over Texas. The firing of Gaudio, who was replaced by Colorado's Jeff Bzdelik and now works for ESPN as an analyst, was not related to the incident; at the time, Wellman said Gaudio was dismissed based on the team's performance late in the season. Teague, then a sophomore, left for the NBA after the loss to Cleveland State. Clark, who was third on the team in scoring at 10.9 points a game, finished his career this past season.
Responding to a request from ESPN.com to comment, Wellman instead said in a statement that "federal law prohibits our sharing any details of the alleged incident or any other student-specific information. I want you to know that our department works diligently to encourage conduct that properly reflects the values of our university."
At least one source with knowledge of the situation expected the accuser to file a lawsuit against the university this week. But Grace said the legal matter was closed.
"The school did a full-blown hearing," said Grace, who also once represented former Wake Forest center Tony Woods in an assault case dealing with his girlfriend and the mother of their child that was reduced to a no contest on the assault charge. Woods was dismissed from Wake Forest for the semester and Grace said the one-time Louisville commit told him he will likely go to Kentucky.
A source who was with the team that night told ESPN.com that the players were told to stay in the hotel with an early wake-up call of 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
Grace said that two cheerleaders testified at the school judicial hearing in defense of the two basketball players. Grace said Teague wasn't in the room when a sexual act occurred between Clark and the accuser. Grace said the victim was heard at the judicial hearing. He said Clark and Teague gave full audio interviews to campus police when they returned to campus.
"I allowed two hard-nosed Miami police detectives to question my clients thoroughly and they didn't prosecute," Grace said. "Gary admitted that the young woman performed oral sex. But she never ever complained that there was any force."
The Winston-Salem paper said it was noted in the police report that the female student did perform oral sex on Clark only because she felt she was pressured.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN's Paula Lavigne is included in this report.
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