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Allegations of sexual assault led to Minnesota Holiday Bowl boycott

Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys speaks during a news conference for the upcoming Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in San Diego. (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)
Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys speaks during a news conference for the upcoming Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, in San Diego. (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

PULLMAN – The suspensions of 10 Minnesota football players and the subsequent boycott by their teammates that raises doubt about the Golden Gophers’ participation in the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl stems from sexual assault allegations that many around the football program thought had been addressed weeks ago.

On Sept. 2, a female student went to a party following a Minnesota football game at which many players were present. At the party, many members of the team and a high school recruit on his official campus visit allegedly had sex with her against her will, leading her to later contact the police from a hospital.

The 10 players who are currently suspended were originally suspended during the police investigation, and then reinstated when no charges were filed against them. The recent suspensions are the result of an investigation by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA). The suspensions include the expulsions of five players.

The confusion stems from differences between the Minneapolis Police Department’s report of the assault and the investigation by the EOAA. The police department report appears to conclude the sexual conduct between the victim and 10 or more people including Minnesota players and a high school football recruit was consensual. the investigation by the EOAA determined it was not consensual.

One discrepancy apparently existed because of confusion by the victim over whether her discomfort with the situation made the activity an assault when she did not explicitly tell some of the men to stop.

The victim, who says she was drinking heavily before going to the party where the alleged assault occurred, told the university investigators and police that she performed sexual acts with some of the men because she felt pressured to do so and was scared.

Per the university investigation, the victim reported that the police “led her to believe her sexual activity with (one player) and the recruit was consensual because she never directly said ‘no’ and because she was not held at gunpoint or under some threat.”

The police department also had access to a 90-second video showing a brief period in which the victim appeared to be cogent and consensual. While the EOAA did not have access to this video, the investigators did have access to a description of its contents.

The university ultimately concluded that the players violated the school’s policy on sexual harassment, and that many also tried to hinder the school’s investigation by withholding information or destroying evidence, such as text messages.

We have attached copies of the EOAA and Minneapolis Police Department reports. Please be advised before reading that both contain material many people may find disturbing and offensive.

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