Despite ruling in favor of the University of Washington in an allegation against former football player Roc Alexander, several jurors wanted to read a statement that would have scolded the university and advised it not to treat the verdict as vindication.
A King County jury returned a verdict in favor of the University of Washington on Thursday, ending a lawsuit that accused the university of mishandling a rape allegation against a football player eight years ago.
But while the verdict favored the university, the jurors’ sentiments did not. The jury even asked if it could read aloud a statement to go with its verdict — a request that Superior Court Judge John Erlick declined. In interviews afterward, several jurors said their statement would have scolded the university and advised it not to treat the verdict as vindication.
The plaintiff, identified in court records by her initials, S.S., alleged that former Huskies defensive back Roc Alexander raped her in 2001, and that the university trivialized her complaint. Instead of directing her to police, university officials suggested mediation — a confidential process in which she and Alexander sat down together with the university’s ombudswoman and a senior associate athletic director to discuss what had happened.
No criminal charges were filed against Alexander in this case. Nor were charges filed in a second case, in which another student accused him of sexual assault. In both instances, Alexander settled lawsuits filed by the women for undisclosed sums.
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Jurors said they found for the UW, by a 10-2 vote, based on narrow legal ground, determining that the plaintiff’s educational environment wasn’t sufficiently harmed by the university’s handling of her complaint. She remained in school, kept a high grade-point average, and graduated.
When asked Thursday how the UW handled the case, one juror said: “You want a quote? Piss poorly.”
The attorney for UW, Andrew Cooley, said after the verdict that the plaintiff is a valuable member of the university. She is currently employed by the school and is pursuing a master’s degree there.
“Hopefully she can move on and put this behind her,” Cooley said.
The plaintiff said afterward that she doesn’t regret bringing the lawsuit.
“I think I got my story out,” she said. “So people know how the university handled this situation, whether I got the verdict or not.”
Alexander joined the NFL in 2004. He played for the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, but is not now listed on an NFL roster.
Ken Armstrong: 206-464-3730 or firstname.lastname@example.org