Dez Wells suing Xavier University over dismissal from college, seeks compensation for harm

CINCINNATI - A former Xavier University basketball player is suing the university.

Dez Wells is suing Xavier and its president, calling for an apology and saying he was wrongly dismissed from the school, according to a statement by Wells’ attorneys,  Peter R. Ginsberg Law, LLC and Merlyn D. Shiverdecker.

In a suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Wells is seeking to recover damages for what his attorneys consider a breach of contract involving a university conducted investigation into rape allegations that led to his dismissal.

It’s been almost a year since a Hamilton Country grand jury decided not to pursue charges against Wells on allegations that he raped a student. The university's hearing was independent of the legal findings of the grand jury.

In the court filing, Wells’ attorneys state Wells was defamed by Xavier President Father Michael J. Graham when he conducted a “fundamentally unfair hearing” and “defamed Wells by publicly proclaiming him guilty of rape.”

At the time, the university stood by its own investigation saying Wells made a serious violation of the student code of conduct.

Specifically, the suit against Father Graham and Xavier states damages exceed $75,000.

“From the moment this nightmare began,” Wells said. “I’ve told the truth. I am innocent. The folks at Xavier wouldn’t listen. Xavier destroyed my reputation. It’s time to make this right. Xavier needs to set the record straight.”

Wells’ attorney told 9 On Your Side a rape test performed on the accuser at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center showed no signs of trauma.

“Allegations of sexual misconduct should be reviewed and handled with the utmost seriousness. That does not mean, however, that the rights of the accused should be ignored,” Ginsburg stated after the suit was filed. “It is especially disappointing that Father Graham and the other ‘role models’ at Xavier, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected institutions of higher education, were so grossly irresponsible and uncaring about what they were doing to the reputation -– and life -- of Dez. Xavier’s silence for the past year and refusal to acknowledge how it mistreated Dez are inexcusable.”

After an appeal to the NCAA, Wells was able to play college basketball at the University of Maryland.

Xavier previously told 9 On Your Side it had no plans to overturn its decision to expel Wells.

The university released a statement from its president, Father Michael Graham, saying:

"We have read the complaint and the allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded and cannot be supported.  The process used by the Xavier University Conduct Board applies to all of our students and is the standard used in American universities. After members of the Conduct Board reached their decision, the matter was considered and upheld in an appeal. The sanction for the offense was expulsion. The University has never revealed the specific charge against Dez Wells other than to say he was found responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The university will vigorously defend the process and the decision."

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