War Eagle Extra

Attorneys representing former Auburn football player Landon Rice issue statement

Former Auburn tight end Landon Rice practices during the spring.
Former Auburn tight end Landon Rice practices during the spring. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Former Auburn tight end Landon Rice’s defense team issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the police and court records accusing their client of first-degree rape.

“Landon was projected to start as tight end for the Auburn Tigers, but two days before their opening game against Clemson, false accusations and fundamental unfairness combined to prevent that from happening,” the statement (full text below) issued by Augusta Dowd reads. “For the past several days, Landon and his family have been subjected to prejudicial and incorrect commentary in an environment that has not permitted them a full opportunity to be heard. Landon has not been charged with any criminal offense. When the true facts are revealed, those who made false accusations and vilified Landon will be held accountable.”

Mike Mastin, a defense attorney based in Albertville, Ala., is representing Rice with Birmingham-based lawyer Dowd and her legal partner Kelly Brennan. Mastin helped connect the Rice family with Dowd, who he said specializes in Title IX cases.

A 19-year female (name withheld by the Ledger-Enquirer to protect her identity) is seeking a protective order of abuse against Rice with the Circuit Court of Lee County.

According to Mastin, the plan is for them to jointly represent Rice in those proceedings.

Mastin plans on filing a notice of appearance with the court this week establishing the lawyers as Rice’s legal representation.

Rice also faces allegations of first-degree rape in a separate incident report filed with the Auburn Police Department on July 27. The allegations are the basis for the protective order filed on Sept. 12 with the Circuit Court of Lee County.

The incident allegedly happened in the late hours of April 12 in the South Donahue Residence Hall, a 209-room dorm located across the street from the athletic complex.

Rice has not been arrested or charged.

Auburn’s police department categorizes the case as “inactive,” but according to Captain Lorenza Dorsey the designation doesn’t mean the investigation is closed.

The plaintiff seeking the protection order from abuse makes the same allegation of sexual assault, and seeks a protection order in fear of “retaliation from a Title IX investigation.”

On Tuesday, Mastin said he doesn’t expect the Auburn Police Department to file charges against his client.

Dowd spoke with the Ledger-Enquirer Tuesday and declined to discuss whether Rice is the subject of an ongoing Title IX investigation at Auburn.

“Those are things that wouldn’t be appropriate to address right now,” Dowd said. “Soon I will be, but I don’t want to cross any lines.”

Dowd also declined to reveal any specific details about Rice leaving the program. The attorney wouldn’t comment if Rice had been suspended or sanctioned as a result of a Title IX investigation.

“Again right now, I’m going to reserve comment,” Dowd said.

Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination — including sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, and sexual violence — on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.

Auburn is required by Title IX laws to conduct an “adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints” when a student is accused of sexual misconduct. The investigation is separate from any criminal proceedings.

Auburn’s Title IX website details the stages of university’s disciplinary process and the specific guidelines it follows in handling all complaints.

Dowd, speaking in general terms, said Title IX investigations and proceedings can continue without the student attending the school.

If Rice is under investigation through Auburn’s Title IX office and is found “more likely than not” to be responsible for misconduct he is subject to sanctions that can include the information being placed on his permanent transcript.

Either party has the right to appeal the decision.

While attorneys can’t participate in the university’s school disciplinary process, Dowd can provide Rice guidance through the process and act as an advisor at any proceedings.

Coach Gus Malzahn announced Rice had left the football program for “personal reasons” following the team’s game on Sept. 10 against Arkansas State.

A spokesperson for Auburn’s athletic department issued a statement Friday night declining comment citing privacy concerns — “by matter of policy and practice, we wouldn't any issue regarding the privacy of students” — and referred all questions about the allegations made to law enforcement.

Malzahn was asked about the situation at his weekly Tuesday press conference but also declined to comment.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

Statement of Augusta S. Dowd (full text)

“Along with my partner Kelly Brennan, it is my privilege to represent Landon Rice and his family. Kelly and I are fortunate to have as co-counsel Michael Mastin of Albertville.

Landon was projected to start as tight end for the Auburn Tigers, but two days before their opening game against Clemson, false accusations and fundamental unfairness combined to prevent that from happening.

For the past several days, Landon and his family have been subjected to prejudicial and incorrect commentary in an environment that has not permitted them a full opportunity to be heard.

Landon has not been charged with any criminal offense. When the true facts are revealed, those who made false accusations and vilified Landon will be held accountable.

Landon and his family appreciate and respect Coach Malzahn and his staff. Along with Landon’s teammates and friends, they have helped Landon through this difficult time.

Landon and his family are confident they will prevail. They have been sustained by the truth, their faith, and great members of the Auburn family.

The legal team will deal with the false accusations and be ready, willing, and able to demonstrate, in the appropriate venue, that Landon has been unfairly treated. ”

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