Woman accusing former OSU players of sexual assault gets new damages hearing

Wednesday, January 5th 2005, 5:37 am

By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) -- A woman who accused four former Oklahoma State University football players of sexual assault was granted another hearing Tuesday to determine whether she should be awarded money damages from two players still named in her civil lawsuit.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered an Oklahoma district judge to reassess whether the woman, former OSU student Alison Jennings, should be granted money damages from former OSU players J.B. Flowers and Evan Howell. No criminal charges were filed.

A three-judge panel overturned the decision of a federal judge in Oklahoma City, who refused to hold another hearing after Jennings and her attorney showed up 20 minutes late to a hearing in October 2003. The judge waited about 15 minutes before awarding no money to Jennings.

Jennings' attorney, Mark Hammons, said he thought the hearing was scheduled a half hour later and asked that he, not his client, be punished. Hammons asked the judge to set aside the no-money ruling, but the judge refused.

The appeals court ruled the Oklahoma judge did not use the correct standards when considering and refusing the request. The case was sent back to the lower court.

Jennings filed a lawsuit against four former players in July 2001, saying they sexually assaulted her during a party at a residence in Stillwater, Okla., on Nov. 21, 1999.

The two other former players, Marcellus Rivers of the New York Giants and Alvin Porter, formally of the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, settled with Jennings for an undisclosed amount in July 2003.

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

Jennings signed a waiver of prosecution the day after the party, saying she couldn't remember enough information to accurately accuse anyone, according to a police report. Jennings later said she was coerced into signing the waiver.

Her lawsuit against the Stillwater Police Department, which accused officers of losing or destroying evidence related to the case, has been dismissed.

Jennings received no money damages in a settlement with the university, which required the school to change its policy on how allegations of sexual misconduct by athletes are reported.

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