Woman reaches settlement with two of four ex-OSU players

Friday, July 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A former Oklahoma State University student has reached a settlement with two NFL players she alleged sexually assaulted her when they were on the OSU team.

Attorneys for plaintiff Alison Jennings and players Marcellus Rivers and Alvin Porter confirmed their clients agreed late Wednesday on a confidential financial settlement of the federal lawsuit.

Rivers is now with the New York Giants and Porter is on the Baltimore Ravens team.

Jennings alleged Rivers, Porter and ex-OSU players J.B. Flowers and Evan Howell sexually assaulted her during a party at a Stillwater residence Nov. 21, 1999.

After the alleged incident, Jennings signed a waiver of prosecution, telling police she couldn't remember what happened clearly enough to accurately accuse anyone.

Payne County prosecutors declined to charge the players as a result.

Jennings later said she was coerced into signing the waiver, and accused Stillwater police of losing or destroying evidence related to the case.

She also accused Oklahoma State officials of acting with ``deliberate indifference'' toward her need for a safe educational environment.

Jennings sued the players, Oklahoma State University, the city of Stillwater and members of the city's police force in 2001.

A settlement involving no financial terms was reached with Oklahoma State in March. The deal called for policy changes in how allegations of sexual misconduct by athletes are reported.

Jennings was pleased with the settlement and with a letter of apology offered by Rivers and Porter, attorney Tamara Gowens said.

``That (letter) is something that means a lot to her,'' Gowens said.

Lawyers for Rivers and Porter said their clients had always accepted responsibility for their actions that night, and they hoped Jennings would eventually do the same.

In depositions filed in Oklahoma City federal court, the players acknowledged having sexual contact with Jennings, but said the acts were consensual.

``Although no crime was committed, we exercised morally inappropriate judgment ... We regret the events occurred and are sorry for all harm caused,'' the letter stated.

Gowens said she was optimistic a settlement could be reached with Flowers, but expected the case against Stillwater and the police officers to go to trial in August.

Jennings won a default judgment against Howell because he failed to respond to the lawsuit on time, Gowens said. Attorneys doubt he can pay damages and likely won't seek them against him.