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University of Oregon drops players accused of rape from basketball team

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Three University of Oregon basketball players who were accused of rape have been dropped from the team despite a decision by prosecutors not to charge them criminally, the school's president said on Friday.

Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis, both 19, and Brandon Austin, 18, were suspended amid a police investigation of accusations that they sexually assaulted a female student on March 8 at an off-campus party and other locations in Eugene, Oregon.

Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner announced this week that he would not file criminal charges against the players, citing a lack of evidence.

University President Michael Gottfredson said the conduct of the three players had prompted the school to dismiss them from the basketball team.

The university has come under fire for allowing Artis and Dotson to play in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments while police investigated the allegations. Students protested on campus on Thursday, calling for answers from the university. 

"Sexual violence, assault, and harassment have no place on our campus or anywhere in our community. None. Ever.” Gottfredson said at a news conference in Eugene on Friday. "The type of behavior in the police report released this week is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Gardner, in announcing that he would not file charges in the case, said all three players told police they had consensual sex with the woman, who was not identified.

According to a report issued by his office, the players' stories and the victim's version of the sexual encounters and the order of events are similar, though the victim did not agree that she had consensual sex with them.

"A no-file decision is not a statement about who we believe or don’t believe. It is simply an analysis of the available evidence and its sufficiency to meet the state’s burden of proof," Gardner said in a written statement.

"From time to time, additional evidence becomes available after an initial no-file decision. When that happens, the evidence is reviewed and, if sufficient, a case may be revived and prosecuted,” he said.

University officials say they began investigating when learning of the incident in March but Eugene police asked them to hold off on doing anything that might hinder the criminal investigation.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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