Duke

Dismissed Duke basketball player Rasheed Sulaimon accused of sexual assault, report states

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski motions to his team during the game against Notre Dame in February.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski motions to his team during the game against Notre Dame in February. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Two allegations of sexual assault were made publicly against former Duke men’s basketball player Rasheed Sulaimon during the 2013-14 school year, the student newspaper at Duke reported Monday.

According to The Chronicle, no official complaints were filed with the Office of Student Conduct or any law enforcement agency.

Sulaimon was dismissed from the basketball program in January.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, asked during an ACC teleconference about the allegations and how he had handled them, repeatedly refused comment Monday.

According to The Chronicle report, a female student publicly told a group at the student-led Common Ground diversity retreat in October 2013 that she had been sexually assaulted by Sulaimon. The Chronicle reported that a second female student made a similar allegation public at the next Common Ground retreat in February 2014.

Neither student commented directly to The Chronicle for the story.

The Chronicle story also quoted Lincoln Wensley, a former secretary in the Duke basketball office and current intern for the Duke Office of News and Communications, as saying he learned of the sexual misconduct allegations in January from another intern. Wensley told The Chronicle that Krzyzewski and athletics director Kevin White were aware of the allegations.

Through a spokesman, White declined to comment about the story, and efforts to reach Wensley for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Duke University spokesman Michael Schoenfeld released a statement Monday:

“Duke is prohibited by law from disclosing publicly any particular student’s confidential education records. The university takes immediate action when it receives reports of alleged sexual misconduct or other violations of the student conduct code, which includes investigation and referral to the Student Conduct Office for review in a timely manner as required by law. Duke also takes every possible action internally to ensure anyone who raises a complaint of sexual misconduct is supported and the campus community is safe.”

Sulaimon was dismissed from the basketball team Jan. 29 for failing to “consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program,” according to a statement released by Krzyzewski at the time. It was the first time the coach had kicked a player off the team in his 35 years at Duke, and the surprise announcement came less than 24 hours after Sulaimon had played in a 77-73 loss at Notre Dame.

There have been no legal complaints or charges filed against Sulaimon in North Carolina or his home state of Texas, according to a public records review Monday. Sulaimon did not respond to a call for comment.

Attorney Bob Ekstrand, who is believed to represent Sulaimon, did not return calls and emails requesting comment. The Chronicle story quoted Ekstrand as saying he believed the allegations against Sulaimon to be false.

The Duke student sexual misconduct policy states that with the exception of clergy, medical providers, therapists and Women’s Center staff, all Duke employees who become aware of an alleged assault are expected to notify the Office of Student Conduct with names and details.

A student complainant can request confidentiality, and the policy states that confidentiality will be maintained except in situations where the university determines others’ safety may be at risk. Student complainants are encouraged to seek support and counseling.

Once a report is made, the Office of Student Conduct reviews the case, which can take three to six weeks. A formal investigation can include interviews of witnesses, the collection of information and the preparation of a written report by an independent investigator. The office of student conduct then decides whether to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings, either a hearing before a three-person panel or an administrative resolution.

The goal is to resolve complaints within 60 days, the policy states.

As of Feb. 25, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights was investigating 97 colleges and universities for their handling of sexual violence cases, according to a department spokesman. Duke University was not among them.

Guilford and UNC are the only ones in North Carolina currently under investigation.

Staff writers Jane Stancill and Anne Blythe contributed to this report.

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