MILWAUKEE – Former Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus said in a lawsuit filed against the university on Tuesday that he was used as a scapegoat during a sexual assault investigation that resulted in his temporary expulsion.
Cephus is seeking unspecified damages in his lawsuit filed in federal court in Madison, accusing defendants of violation of his rights to a fair trial, violation of the provisions of Title IX and breach of contract.
Cephus was banned from the Badgers football team in August 2018 and was expelled from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for violating the non-academic code of misconduct as part of a Title IX investigation following his arrest for second- and third-degree sexual assault allegations .
After a jury acquitted Cephus, he recovered and led Wisconsin through the 2019 season as the Badgers went and reached 10-4 the Rose Bowl. Cephus recently finished his rookie season with the Detroit Lions, taking him in the fifth round of the design for 2020.
University officials did not immediately respond to an email on Tuesday seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Cephus's attorney Andrew Miltenberg said he has spoken to NFL agents and design analysts who believe Cephus would have been drafted earlier had he not been evicted.
"He wants to set a precedent so that schools are more careful and diligent in the way they handle these cases and not just pass judgment when they are sure they don't have all the evidence," said Miltenberg. .
The complaint says Wisconsin "tried to push for harsh male prosecutions to remedy the long-standing lack of complaints about sexual assault." The complaint adds that Cephus's status as a well-known footballer made him "the perfect candidate for college to prove her research efforts and punish accused men in a high-profile way."
Defendants include Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Title IX coordinator Lauren Hasselbacher on campus and the school's council of regency.
The criminal charges resulted from an incident at Cephus's Madison apartment in April 2018. Cephus had sexual acts with two 18-year-old Wisconsin students who later said they had been raped and too drunk to agree. Cephus said there was agreement on the sex.
Cephus's lawyers said in the complaint that the school's Title IX investigation was "a blatant miscarriage of justice." That research concluded that Cephus had "more likely than not" sexually assaulted the women.
Cephus's lawyers argue that the university should have delayed the investigation until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings because there was relevant evidence that would not be released until the criminal case was closed. They say that contained video evidence that disputed the women's claims that they were drunk that night.
They say the school acknowledged that it had tried unsuccessfully to obtain this evidence and went ahead with the disciplinary hearing anyway.
The complaint also says that the statements of two female students were consistently fooled and the investigation was biased by a lack of transparency.
The lawsuit comes five months after one of the female students was involved in the case sued the university on the 2019 decision to undo Cephus's expulsion and allow him back on the football team.