Pat Swilling Jr.'s accuser files civil rights lawsuit against Tulsa
AUG 18, 2014 2:58p ET
A woman who accused University of Tulsa basketball player Pat Swilling Jr. of rape filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school Monday, alleging that administrators knew or should have known about three prior allegations against him.
The woman filed the suit under the federal law known as Title IX, which is designed to guarantee equal access to education for men and woman and which has become a focal point of efforts to curb sexual assaults involving students.
Swilling, who was not charged criminally and was cleared of wrongdoing after a university code-of-conduct investigation, was not named in the suit filed by the woman.
University of Tulsa president Steadman Upham said in a statement that the school has a "robust policy to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault in a thorough and deliberate manner."
"Although this legal filing has been widely distributed to media outlets, the lawsuit has not been served on the university," the statement said, in part. "As such, we have not yet been able to thoroughly review the lawsuit; but, from media reports, it appears misinformation already is developing regarding our handling of this matter.
"This process was carried out fully and completely in the case in question, including communicating the official policy to all parties involved. As soon as the incident was reported, university administrators immediately began the investigation process.
"We conducted our investigation in a fair and timely manner, cooperating fully with local law enforcement."
Corbin Brewster, a Tulsa attorney who represented Swilling after the allegations were lodged in January, said the university conducted "an extremely thorough investigation."
"They didn't like the result – and I think that's what the problem is," Brewster said. "I think the problem isn't that the University of Tulsa didn't do what it was supposed to do – it's not like the university didn't conduct an investigation, because they did."
The woman alleged that Swilling sexually assaulted her Jan. 27 at his off-campus apartment.
According to the suit, the two had met earlier that month and occasionally talked and sent text messages to each other. On the night of Jan. 27, Swilling allegedly invited her to his apartment and suggested that she “wear something sexy,” according to the suit.
The woman was “concerned with the request and asked him to clarify his intentions,” according to the suit. After he sent a text back saying that he was kidding, she agreed to spend time with him.
According to the complaint, the two were watching a basketball game on television when he pushed her over and grabbed her, then sexually assaulted her while she cried and “repeatedly told him to stop.”
Swilling allegedly “responded by instructing her to ‘shut up,’ ” according to the suit.
Afterward, Swilling allegedly said, “No one is going to know about this, right?” according to the suit.
She then sent a text to a friend, saying she needed to talk to her. The friend didn’t see the message until the next morning and went with the woman as she reported the incident to Tulsa police.
The police investigation was closed after prosecutors decided not to file charges. And a school code-of-conduct investigation also ended without any action being taken against Swilling, who was suspended from the Tulsa basketball team after the allegations came to light and missed the final 11 games of the 2013-14 season.
During the Tulsa police investigation, detectives located three other women who alleged sexual misconduct involving Swilling, according to the suit.
He was not charged with a crime in any of those cases.
In one instance, Swilling was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student while he was attending the College of Southern Idaho. In that case, according to a police report obtained by FOX Sports, the woman repeatedly told him she did not want to have sex.
The woman did not report the incident to police, but her mother told school officials about it and they called police.
No charges were filed after the woman told detectives that while she did not want to have sex she ultimately relented and did not believe she was a victim of rape.
Still, the Tulsa student’s lawsuit alleged that university officials, including former basketball coach Danny Manning, had “easy access” to information about the case while they were recruiting Swilling.
In the second case, the suit alleges a woman reported to the university’s security office that she had been sexually assaulted by Swilling but that no investigation was conducted.
Finally, according to the suit, Tulsa detectives located a woman who alleged that Swilling attempted to sexually assault her at a party but that other students heard her screams and pulled the player off her.
The suit acknowledged that it is not clear who at the university should have known about the third incident.
The woman’s suit also alleged that school officials conducted only a brief investigation that was “composed largely of those witnesses coordinated by Swilling and his counsel to suggest that plaintiff was a promiscuous woman and therefore likely consented to sexual penetration.” Among the evidence were affidavits submitted by Swilling’s teammates.
According to the suit, Manning – who has since left Tulsa to take the head coaching job at Wake Forest – is alleged to have directed members of the team to cooperate with Swilling’s attorney, but at least one player refused to sign an affidavit. That player alleged that Swilling's lawyer was “twisting his words,” according to the suit.
When members of the university’s security department questioned the woman’s friends, they allegedly asked about her prior sexual history instead of focusing on Swilling, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges that members of the university’s security department refused to issue a restraining order against Swilling – and initially rebuffed her request for an escort home after she saw him in a fitness center on campus.
Swilling, the son of former NFL star Pat Swilling, began his basketball career at St. Joseph's University in Pennsylvania before transferring to the College of Southern Idaho and, ultimately, to Tulsa.
The U.S. Department of Education earlier this year made public for the first time a list of schools that were under federal investigation for their handling of sexual misconduct complaints. That list included 55 colleges and universities.
The law requires colleges and universities to promptly investigate all alleged sexual assaults involving students and to take whatever action is warranted.
But the suit against Tulsa alleges that school officials were “deliberately indifferent to the substantial risk that Swilling would sexually harass other female students” at the university and “deliberately indifferent to the multiple accounts of rape and sexual misconduct by failing to investigate any of those prior allegations and by subsequently failing to institute any additional disciplinary measures or protective procedures to guard against the risk posed by Swilling.”
As a result, the woman alleged she was deprived of educational opportunities.
The woman – whose parents both attended Tulsa – ultimately left the university because she was “terrified” of encountering Swilling again on campus, the suit alleges.
Swilling, meanwhile, hopes to stay at Tulsa another year and play football.
He dropped out of classes last spring, and as a result he does not currently have enough credits to be eligible for the team. But Brewster said he has applied for a waiver and has been practicing with the team while he waits for a determination.