Attorney clarifies no lawsuit was filed

Updated: October 14, 2003, 12:12 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An attorney for Maurice Clarett clarified Monday that Clarett is not suing Ohio State, but rather is asking that the school be held in contempt of court for violating Clarett's student privacy rights and be ordered to pay him at least $2.5 million, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.

"I want to make clear that we didn't sue the university," Percy Squire told the paper by telephone.

Squire told the paper that he filed a motion, and an accompanying complaint, on Friday, in which he claims Ohio State committed a "deliberate, calculated and malicious violation" of a permanent injunction issued in 2000 by a U.S. District Court that prohibits universities from releasing "student disciplinary records" or any "personally identifiable information" about a student.

According to the report, Ohio State was a defendant in that case in which a judge ruled disciplinary records are considered educational records protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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

Squire claims the university obtained information about that theft report during the course of an NCAA investigation into possible eligibility violations and then turned that information over to city prosecutors.

According to the report, Squire is asking the court to prevent that information from being used against Clarett because it was provided illegally.

"I don't think it's fair for Mr. Clarett to go down and face criminal charges for evidence that was in violation of a court order," Squire said.

On Saturday, a university attorney called the federal action "procedurally irregular" and "misguided," because the school hasn't had time to respond to a county complaint filed last month seeking information to help determine if Clarett should sue.

Squire claims that Clarett could suffer significant economic harm if the school's disciplinary records are allowed to be used in the criminal case.

"One of the products of releasing this information inappropriately is that information is going to be used in a criminal prosecution against him," Squire said. "If that information goes in, he's irreparably harmed.

"Whether that merits a fine of $2.5 million remains to be seen. It may be worth greater than that, given what this young man's potential is."

Ohio State remains steadfast that it has not done anything to compromise Clarett's FERPA rights.

"The Ohio State University has vigorously protected the educational records of this student-athlete and his Sept. 18 discovery lawsuit has generated no information that would lead Mr. Clarett to believe that Ohio State violated his privacy," university attorney Virginia Trethewey said in a statement released Saturday.

Separate from his pending civil and criminal actions related to the expense report and subsequent NCAA investigations, Clarett also is suing the NFL for early entry into its player draft.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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