FORMER OSU student sues ex-athletes, school and police officer

Tuesday, July 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A former Oklahoma State University student filed a civil lawsuit Monday against four former OSU football players she alleges sexually assaulted her in a Stillwater house nearly two years ago.

The university and Stillwater police investigator Robert Buzzard also are named in the federal lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The former student, Alison Jennings, accused ex-football players Marcellus Rivers, J.B. Flowers, Evan Howell and Alvin Porter of sexually assaulting her Nov. 21, 1999, while she was attending a party.

Police investigated the incident at the time, but District Attorney Rob Hudson declined to file charges. Hudson cited inconsistent statements from witnesses and doubts expressed by the alleged victim.

Jennings, 24, was quoted in a police report as saying, ``I don't feel like I remember enough information prior to the sexual relations to accurately accuse anyone.''

She said she believes her case was mishandled.

Jennings said she reported the incident to Stillwater police, but contends an officer named ``Buzzard'' coerced her into signing a waiver of prosecution on the same date as the alleged assault by falsely reporting that she ``had no case.''

``Thereafter, unknown officers or agents of the City either lost or destroyed evidence related to .... (Jennings') claims and failed or refused to interview and investigate certain critical witnesses to the events,'' the lawsuit states.

Jennings accuses OSU of failing to investigate and take appropriate action and of acting with ``deliberate indifference'' toward her need for a safe and secure educational environment.

Mark Hammons, Jennings' attorney, said his client is now a student at another Oklahoma school, but he declined to identify the school to protect his client's privacy.

Hammons said Jennings is being supported in her lawsuit by the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes.

``Statistics show that athletes make up only 3 percent of the population on college campuses, but they are responsible for 19 percent of sexual assaults,'' Hammons said.

``There cannot be two standards of justice, one for the student athlete and the other for other students.''

A telephone message asking for comment from Buzzard at the Stillwater Police Department was not returned. The former players also could not be contacted immediately for comment.

City Attorney Mary Ann Karns said she does not have enough information to make a statement about the lawsuit. Deputy police Chief Ron Thrasher said in October that the Stillwater Police Department made all the evidence it gathered available to the Payne County District Attorney's Office in 1999.

Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson would not comment Monday. But he said in a three-paragraph statement on Nov. 30, 1999, that despite a lengthy investigation involving 29 witnesses, law officers did not compile enough evidence to support a rape charge.

``The state would be unable to meet our burden of proving the elements of a forcible rape,'' Hudson's statement read.

Natalea Watkins, assistant vice president for communications at OSU, said the university had not been officially served with the lawsuit and it would be inappropriate to comment.