Miami-Dade County

She says UM failed to protect her when two football players raped her in dorm, suit says

This University of Miami main campus, from the corner of Stanford Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables.
This University of Miami main campus, from the corner of Stanford Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. Miami Herald file photo

Two former University of Miami football players avoided jail time after accusations that they raped an intoxicated female student in a dorm room on the Coral Gables campus.

The 2014 incident, involving UM’s ex-linebackers JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa — who were 20 and 19 at the time and immediately kicked off the team and expelled from the school — was resolved when both agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders, undergo sex-offender treatment classes and complete 100 hours of community service.

But last month, the unnamed victim — Jane Doe in court documents — filed suit against the University of Miami in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleging the school failed to protect a minor student athlete, coming to the university for the first time, from sexual assault on its Coral Gables campus. She was 17 at the time and had come to UM to play soccer. She was from a small town in Pennsylvania, according to court records.

She is seeking damages “far in excess” of $15,000, according to the suit filed by Stuart Share, an attorney at his self-named Miami firm. The suit was first reported by the Daily Business Review.

The University of Miami is being represented by Eric Isicoff of the Miami firm Isicoff, Ragatz & Koenigsberg.

Isicoff responded to the suit, filed on June 22, in Daily Business Review.

“This matter was thoroughly investigated at the time it was reported, and the university took immediate and swift disciplinary action against the two male students involved,” Isicoff told Daily Business Review. “It was also reviewed by appropriate law enforcement agencies, and no criminal charges were filed.”

UM intends to “vigorously defend itself” against the civil complaint, Isicoff told Daily Business Review.

In Jane Doe’s suit, she lists 15 instances in which UM failed her.

Among them:

Negligently allowing minors into a dormitory where there are not protections from other students, particularly other students who the University of Miami knows or should have known had “violate tendencies.”

Negligently allowing minors into a dormitory where there was “no meaningful guarding” from being brought back into the dorm in an impaired state by two student athletes.

Failing to have adequate security measures and policies in effect which would prevent a sexual assault and rape in a University of Miami dormitory.

Jawand Blue.JPG
Alexander Figueroa is shown on July 8, 2014. Miami-Dade Department of Corrections AP

Alexander Figueroa.JPG
JaWand Blue is shown, July 8, 2014. Miami-Dade Department of Corrections AP

According to the deal offered Figueroa and Blue in 2014, the victim, a freshman on UM’s soccer team, did not want to undergo the “devastating” experience of testifying against the two football players, the Miami Herald reported at the time.

According to a state attorney’s memo in 2014, the female student attended a gathering with various school athletes, including Blue and Figueroa, at the school’s University Village where alcohol was consumed, despite many of the students being younger than 21, the legal drinking age.

Later that night, the group went to Mr. Moe’s, a Coconut Grove bar, where more drinking took place. The victim, who attended UM from Pennsylvania, drank to the point “that she became physically ill,” according to the memo. Figueroa, Blue and the female soccer player returned to the campus dormitory where she passed out in Figueroa’s room.

She said she woke up as the men assaulted her. The football players said the encounter was consensual.

According to the police report, the two men admitted they bought and provided several alcoholic beverages for the victim before taking her back to Figueroa’s dorm room. They also told police they had administered or had knowledge of someone else administering to the victim a narcotic or other substance that incapacitated the victim.

They also admitted to police they performed sexual acts on her without her consent, the report said.

The woman later graduated from UM.

“Jane Doe is resolute and not allowing even a horrendous crime to keep her from her goal of playing soccer and graduating at the University of Miami,” Share’s suit reads.

But “in the days and months following the rapes, a couple of University of Miami personnel spoke with the minor plaintiff but there was no real significate [sic] counseling or treatment, or assistance giving [sic] to the minor plaintiff victim.”

Adds John Eversole III, lead counsel on the case and working with Share: “UM did a few things AFTER this attack which were right to do, and made some changes in dorm security and so forth. My expert feels more can be done, but all of the new improvements were made too late for Jane Doe, unfortunately.

“Any cursory search shows that UM has had issues in the past with security and safety of female students,” Eversole said. “UM was on notice and should have had some protections for brand new minor students, particularly students, like Jane Doe, from a small town.”

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