Duke in­ves­ti­gates as­sault al­le­ga­tion against ex-player

Tampa Bay Times - - College Basketball -

The woman who has ac­cused Vir­ginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax of rap­ing her while they were Duke stu­dents 20 years ago also says a Blue Devils bas­ket­ball player raped her in 1999.

Mered­ith Wat­son’s lawyer re­leased a state­ment late Fri­day claim­ing Wat­son was raped by a Duke bas­ket­ball player and, when she re­ported the at­tack to a school ad­min­is­tra­tor, re­ceived no as­sis­tance. The state­ment did not give the name of the player nor the name of the school ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Wat­son’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, wrote in the state­ment: “Ms. Wat­son was raped by a bas­ket­ball player dur­ing her sopho­more year at Duke. She went to the Dean, who pro­vided no help and dis­cour­aged her from pur­su­ing the claim fur­ther. Ms. Wat­son also told friends, in­clud­ing Justin Fair­fax.”

Duke is­sued a state­ment af­ter Satur­day night’s bas­ket­ball game at Vir­ginia, de­tail­ing its in­tent to in­ves­ti­gate the claims.

“Duke first learned of the al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing a stu­den­tath­lete last night when they were re­ported by the me­dia,” the state­ment said. “Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski con­firms that he had no knowl­edge of the al­leged con­duct from 1999. The univer­sity is look­ing into the mat­ter and will have no fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

Krzyzewski said af­ter Satur­day’s game that he had no knowl­edge of such an event. Ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Kevin White re­leased a state­ment, echo­ing that com­ment.

Krzyzewski added dur­ing his postgame com­ments that he takes the sit­u­a­tion se­ri­ously: “There’s an al­le­ga­tion. I didn’t find out about it un­til late (Fri­day), and I have no knowl­edge about it. That is hugely im­por­tant. Our univer­sity will take care of what­ever ac­tions and give what­ever in­for­ma­tion that’s needed to be done. Some­thing like that is se­ri­ous. Our school looks at it that way. We’ll do what­ever we can to an­swer what­ever ques­tions are posed to us.”

The 1998-99 Duke team, which fin­ished 37-2, was one of the most tal­ented and highly touted in school his­tory. But it lost to UConn 77-74 in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game that sea­son, which was played at Trop­i­cana Field.

Fair­fax has de­nied Wat­son’s al­le­ga­tion that he sex­u­ally as­saulted her on Duke’s cam­pus in Durham, N.C., when they were both stu­dents in 2000. That ac­cu­sa­tion fol­lows one by Scripps Col­lege pro­fes­sor Vanessa Tyson. She has ac­cused Fair­fax of as­sault­ing her at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in 2004 in Bos­ton.

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