Jury doesn't charge Dezmine Wells
A grand jury has rejected criminal charges against Xavier forward Dezmine Wells but the university announced that the sophomore remains expelled from the school.
Within hours of prosecutor Joseph Deters' announcement that a Hamilton County grand jury had declined to indict Wells on sexual assault charges, Xavier said it was standing by the University Conduct Board's decision to expel the sophomore for what it termed "a serious violation of the student code."
The Strange Case of Dezmine Wells
The good news? Dezmine Wells' name has been cleared, and rather forcefully, by a grand jury. But that doesn't change his current predicament: finding a new place to play basketball in a rather short period of time, writes Eamonn Brennan. Blog
"Federal Law (Title IX) and Federal Regulations and Guidances prohibit Universities from ceding student conduct matters to the criminal justice system. The Federal Law requires schools to act quickly and all schools, by law, must use the 'preponderance of evidence' standard, whereas the criminal justice system uses the 'probable cause' standard to indict, and the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard to convict.
"The process used by the Xavier University Conduct Board is the standard used in American universities. The XU Conduct Board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the Grand Jury. After the Conduct Board reached its decision, the matter was considered and upheld by an appeal board of members of the student body, faculty and staff and is final."
That decision went against the hopes of Deters, who in his statement said: "I would sincerely hope the institution would revisit this situation," and left Wells' attorney, Merlyn Shiverdecker furious.
"That is self-serving gobbledygook," Shiverdecker told ESPN.com after being read Xavier's statement. "I think they were committed to the process and not the fairness of the outcome. Dez Wells got thrown under a bus because of their commitment to the process."
Shiverdecker said he was hired to help with Wells' appeal -- after the initial expulsion ruling -- and given five days to present an argument for overturning the initial decision. He said he wrote a brief arguing that the school should reconsider its decision based on the "unfairness of the hearing, that the evidence didn't support the decision and newly discovered evidence."
My goal was not to lambast Xavier University. My goal was to exonerate Dez, to clear his name. We have done all we can to do that. I'm tickled we were able to do that today, that prosecutor made his statements public. But if Xavier wants to keep their blinders on, there's nothing nobody can do to stop them.” -- Merlyn Shiverdecker, Dezmine Wells' attorney
He turned in that brief on Aug. 10.
The university decided to uphold its appeal four days later.
After the prosecutor's announcement on Tuesday afternoon, Shiverdecker said he was hopeful the university would reverse the decision. He has since said that is not the case.
Wells will now transfer to another university. Shiverdecker said other schools already have expressed interest in landing Wells. Under NCAA rules, he would have to sit out a year if he enrolls at another Division I school.
"Within two hours of being exonerated, they say this? Why in the hell would he want to go back there?" Shiverdecker said. "My goal was not to lambast Xavier University. My goal was to exonerate Dez, to clear his name. We have done all we can to do that. I'm tickled we were able to do that today, that prosecutor made his statements public. But if Xavier wants to keep their blinders on, there's nothing nobody can do to stop them."
Shiverdecker took issue with the university's stipulation that its standards differ from that of the criminal justice system, explaining that preponderance of evidence is merely the civil equivalent of probable cause.
The lawyer also said he was angry that the university tried to imply that it had information that the prosecutor's office or grand jury did not.
"I personally gave the prosecutor's office every piece of paper, every exhibit, every report, every statement, every hospital report plus a complete transcript of the hearing," he said. "For them to sit there and suggest that the prosecutor was looking at something else is disingenuous at best."
Shiverdecker said the university had rushed to judgment but said Wells appreciated the prosecutor's office gave him "the only forum where he could get his good name back .... The actions of the grand jury have vindicated him of wrongdoing."
Wells started 32 games as a freshman last season and was the team's fourth-leading scorer while making the Atlantic 10's all-rookie team. He would have been the only returning starter for a team that reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. The forward averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.
He was suspended for four games for his role in an on-court brawl with rival Cincinnati during the season. Wells was among four Xavier players suspended, with Cincinnati also suspending four players.
Deters had looked into possible criminal charges against some players in the December brawl but decided against it.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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