The University of Oregon on Thursday dropped a counterclaim it had filed as part of its response to a lawsuit by a student who contends that the university mishandled her sexual-assault complaint against three basketball players, The Register-Guard reports.
In a lawsuit filed in January against the university and its head basketball coach, Dana Altman, the student alleged that the institution and the coach had made winning games a higher priority than investigating her claim.
The university filed its response this month, including a counterclaim that sought to recover legal expenses from the accuser, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, and her lawyers. In an amended response it filed with the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday, the university dropped the counterclaim but still contends that the student’s lawyers “filed a lawsuit with unfounded allegations that damage a good man’s reputation” in an attempt to attract publicity and put pressure on the institution to pay out a hefty financial settlement.
The move followed the creation this week of an online petition urging the university to “stop suing rape survivors.” The petition has drawn more than 2,000 signatures from students, alumni, and professors. The university’s president, Scott Coltrane, told the newspaper that the institution wanted “to get away from this distraction.”
He also criticized the petition for characterizing the university as having filed a lawsuit against the student, as opposed to responding to a lawsuit. “Their suit would have us pay legal fees,” he said, “and I was told it’s typical when you respond” to also file a counterclaim.