Hours after Oregon confirmed Monday that Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin each were not allowed to participate in any team activities, the reason for their ban became clear.
All three players were at the center of a rape investigation that the Lane County District Attorney's office has since decided not to prosecute due to a lack of evidence.
A female Oregon student accused Dotson, Artis and Austin of sexually assaulting her during and after a party thrown by another Oregon player in March, the Oregonian first reported Monday night.
In a stomach-churning police report published by the Oregonian, the alleged victim says Dotson, Artis and Austin complimented her at the party before leading her into a bathroom and forcing her to perform sex acts on them against her will. The alleged victim accused Dotson, Artis and Austin of then coercing her into taking a cab back to an apartment and having sex with each of them, stopping only once she began crying.
In interviews with the Eugene Police Department, Dotson and Artis both confirmed the encounter took place but described it as consensual, insisting the accuser entered the bathroom and taxi voluntarily and not only stayed the night at the apartment but also had sex with Artis again the next morning. Only Dotson was listed as a suspect by the district attorney's office, which released a statement to the Oregonian explaining why it would not be further pursuing the case.
"While there is no doubt the incidents occurred," the statement read, "the conflicting statements and actions by the victim make this case unprovable as a criminal case."
Oregon did not make coach Dana Altman available to the media Monday, so he has not explained why Artis and Dotson played in the NCAA tournament even though the alleged victim filed a police report the day the Ducks were eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament the previous week. Nor has Altman addressed how he plans to discipline the three players, a potentially difficult decision given the severity of the accusation yet the lack of criminal charges.
This is not the first off-court incident for any of the three players involved.
Artis was suspended nine games this past season for violating NCAA rules by selling shoes and other memorabilia. Dotson was suspended for a February game after being cited for using a false identification to enter a campus bar.
In the case of Austin, it's the second sexual assault case he has been linked to since November The Wall Street Journal reported in March he and a teammate were under investigation while at Providence, an incident that led to him being suspended at Providence and transferring to Oregon in January.
Altman's decision to take Austin will surely receive further scrutiny in light of this incident. He defended it back in March after the Wall Street Journal story was published, telling reporters before Oregon's opening-round NCAA game that he was "comfortable" with the decision because Providence wanted Austin to stay and because he'd gathered the information about Austin he needed.
If Altman now has to kick all three players off the team, it will be a huge blow for the Ducks' chances of getting back to a third straight NCAA tournament next season.
Artis, a consensus top 100 recruit in 2012, was expected to regain his starting point guard position next season after losing it to Johnathan Loyd as a sophomore. Dotson, a two-year starter at small forward, emerged as Oregon's primary defensive stopper this past season though his scoring average and 3-point shooting percentage dipped a bit. And Austin, another highly touted recruit, had a chance to make an impact in his first season with the Ducks once he became eligible in December.
Throw in the earlier transfers of forward Ben Carter and guard A.J. Lapray and the graduation of five other players from last season, and Oregon only has four players left in good standing from last season: all-league guard Joseph Young, reserve forward Elgin Cook and seldom-used guards Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Theo Friedman.
Perhaps Artis, Dotson or Austin may yet suit up for the Ducks again, but that's very uncertain at this point.
At best all three are guilty of terrible judgment. At worst they're guilty of far worse than that.
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