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CINCINNATI - After hearing all of the evidence against former Xavier University basketball player Dezmine Wells, a grand jury has decided not to pursue any charges.
The Hamilton County Grand Jury heard the case Tuesday alleging sexual assault against Wells.
"We always take allegations of this nature very seriously," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "I assigned senior assistant prosecutors to this case to review all of the evidence and to conduct a complete presentation to the Hamilton County Grand Jury."
Xavier announced last week that Wells, a sophomore, was expelled from the school for a "serious violation of the student code of conduct."
Deters said he hopes the school reconsiders Wells' expulsion.
"I have nothing but the greatest respect for Xavier University, and in particular [Xavier's President] Father Graham. I would sincerely hope the institution would revisit this situation," Deters said.
Xavier released a statement, in which they declined to reconsider. That statement can be read at the bottom of this story.
Wells' lawyer, Merlyn Shiverdecker, clarified the events in question during an interview with 9 News, seeking to clear Wells' name. He said allegations of rape were made by an RA at Xavier University against Wells. Wells admitted to engaging in sexual activity with a person at Xavier University, but consensually.
"Dez has said that he engaged in sexual activity with another person at Xavier University," Shiverdecker said. "Allegations were made against him at the student conduct level. There was a hearing. He was found guilty of the offense with which he was charged, which was rape, and he was expelled from school"
Shiverdecker said they are fortunate the police did their own investigation.
"We're very lucky that the police also did a concurrent parallel investigation. All the matter was taken to Joe Deters in the prosecutor's office where they had a chance to review all the evidence presented at the hearing against Dez at XU as well as all other evidence accumulated by the Cincinnati Police Department," Shiverdecker said. "The significance is that Dez has been exonerated. He has been found not to have done what he was accused of at Xavier and he has been found not to be guilty of what they in fact found him guilty of. So, it's a great day for Dez to get his name cleared."
The initial accusation was made after the female accuser said she thought she had been a victim of sexual assault to a friend of hers on the phone and the friend recommended she contact the university to get a counselor, according to Shiverdecker. But Shiverdecker said her story was inconsistent with the testimony of other witnesses that were around the accuser on the night of the alleged incident.
A rape test at University Hospital on the accuser showed no trauma, Shiverdecker said.
"It was a complete examination and there was no trauma to support any type of forced sexual activity at all," Shiverdecker said. "None. Zero. Nada. That rape exam would be totally inconsistent and [contradictory] of her statement."
Wells testified at the grand jury investigation because he wanted to tell his side of the story.
"I'm the only person here that can stand up for Dez and try to clear his name as a man," Shiverdecker said. "He's a good young man. Nobody wants to have a label put on them as a rapist particularly when you know you didn't do it -- when you know that it was unfounded -- the charges and the allegations. So, that's what we're trying to do is clear Dez's name so whatever he can do in the rest of his life he can walk around with his head high knowing that he has been vindicated in this judicial process."
Shiverdecker said the process at Xavier was not ideal.
"I'm not here to criticize Xavier University," Shiverdecker said. "I think we got an unfair result in the process because I don't think the process is geared to deal with these types of issues. The people that are involved in conducting the hearings or making the decision don't have the background, training, education to make these kinds of decisions and sum up with the right result. I believe Xavier was committed because of their consent decree with the Department of Education -- they are committed to a process. Sometimes in following the process, we lose sight of what the objective of the process is and that ultimately is to come to a right and just decision. Someone in this process, the concept of justice seems to have been lost."
The two aren't considering going to court just yet to get Wells reinstated at the school.
"What we're hoping that will happen is that the right thing will be done here," Shiverdecker said. "The right thing would be for Xaiver in my opinion to right the wrong that's occurred and have Dez come back there resume his education and be a leader at that school."
"We got a bad decision at Xavier. We got a good decision out of the legal system," Shiverdecker said. "Hopefully, Dez can get his reputation back and ideally he'd be back playing basketball at XU if everything
fell in place the right way. I'm sure his teammates and staff up there would love to have him back."
Read the full statement issued by Xavier University in response to the grand jury's findings below:
Federal Law (Title IX) and Federal regulations and guidances prohibit universities from ceding student conduct matters to the criminal justice system. The Federal law requires schools to act quickly and all schools, by law, must use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, whereas the criminal justice system uses the "probable cause" standard to indict, and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to convict.
The process used by the Xavier University Conduct Board is the standard used in American universities. The XU Conduct Board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the grand jury. After the conduct board reached its decision, the matter was considered and upheld by an appeal board of members of the student body, faculty and staff and is final.
Wells, a 6'5" guard/forward for the men's basketball team and member of the 2012 Atlantic 10 All-Rooke Team, started 32 games as a freshman in the 2011-12 season, helping XU reach the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. He finished fourth on the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game and third on the team in rebounding with 4.9 rebounds per game.
Xavier now has no returning starters, and only two guards on the roster that have any collegiate experience in Brad Redford and Dee Davis. Forward Travis Taylor is now the returning leading scorer on the team with 4.5 points per game in the 2011-12 season.
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