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Suit claims privacy rights violated

10/10/2003 - Ohio State Buckeyes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lawyers of suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice
Clarett filed a federal suit Friday accusing the university of
violating his privacy rights by giving police information from an
NCAA investigation.

Clarett is seeking at least $2.5 million in damages from the
university. He also asks for a court order preventing prosecutors
from using the information as evidence in a misdemeanor case
accusing him of filing a false police report.

Cleveland television station WJW provided The Associated Press
with a copy of the lawsuit, filed late Friday in U.S. District
Court in Columbus.

Percy Squire, Clarett's Columbus attorney, did not immediately
return phone calls seeking comment. Ohio State spokeswoman
Elizabeth Conlisk said university attorneys had not seen the
lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, traveling with the
defending national champion Buckeyes for Saturday night's game at
Wisconsin, said he hadn't heard about the lawsuit and declined
comment.

Clarett is suspended for his sophomore season for accepting
money from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators.
He is separately suing the NFL, asking a judge to throw out a rule
that prevents him from entering the draft until he has been out of
high school for three years.

Clarett is accused of filing an exaggerated theft report with
campus police in April after a dealership's car he was borrowing
was broken into. The police report said cash and stereo equipment
worth thousands of dollars was taken.

He has pleaded innocent to one count of falsification, which has
a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to the latest lawsuit, Clarett discussed the police
report with Ohio State and NCAA officials while they were
investigating whether the running back had violated any NCAA rules.

The lawsuit says Clarett's statements were "protected
educational records," and should not have been released without a
subpoena or Clarett's consent.

"OSU and the NCAA elicited statements from Mr. Clarett in this
coercive environment and released those statements to the city of
Columbus, Ohio, law enforcement officials," the lawsuit says.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard declined to comment.

Last month, Clarett filed a complaint in Franklin County Common
Pleas Court, seeking information from Ohio State to help determine
if he should file a lawsuit charging that his rights were violated.

Clarett asked the court to allow his attorneys to take sworn
statements from university officials about the charge of lying to
police. That complaint said the university, by withholding
information, had subjected him to prosecution.

Clarett set Ohio State freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing
and 18 touchdowns last season as the Buckeyes won the national
championship for the first time in 34 years. He scored the winning
touchdown in overtime as the Buckeyes upset top-ranked Miami in the
Fiesta Bowl.