War Eagle Extra

Alleged victim accusing former Auburn football player Landon Rice of first-degree rape issues statement

Auburn tight end Landon Rice.
Auburn tight end Landon Rice. Auburn University

The lawyer representing the alleged victim accusing Landon Rice of first-degree rape in a recent court filing for a protective order in the Circuit Court of Lee County issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Jeff Herman, a Boca Raton, Fla.,-based attorney, put out the statement in response to the one released by Rice’s defense team Tuesday labeling the accusations in the court filing and incident report with the Auburn Police Department “false allegations.”

“My client is a courageous woman who wanted to keep this matter private,” Herman’s statement reads. “However, given the statement made by Landon’s attorney she feels it is important for her to speak up. She is thankful for the support from Auburn University and the criminal authorities along with her friends and family. She is a courageous example for women everywhere and refuses to be silenced.”

The release also includes a series of text messages purportedly between the alleged 19-year old victim (name withheld by the Ledger-Enquirer to protect her identity) and Rice.

In the exchange, Rice allegedly repeatedly apologizes for his actions, asking her to put this behind them and not tell anyone.

According to the released documents, the initial exchange happened shortly after the alleged sexual assault occurred in April with a follow-up conversation in June with the victim asking Rice multiple times to cease all contact.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Herman was reluctant to say anything beyond the released statement.

Herman declined to answer whether or not Rice is the subject of an ongoing Title IX investigation. He also wouldn’t say if he expected criminal charges to be filed in the matter.

“I don’t want to comment prematurely,” Herman said.

Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The law requires schools to take immediate steps to address any sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence on campus to prevent it from affecting students further.

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.

Neither Herman or Rice's attorneys have been willing to discuss the process.

If a Title IX investigation find Rice is “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.

The only extended comment Herman offered Wednesday was to reiterate a point he made in his statement.

“She wanted to keep this a private matter, not go to the press, the only reason we released any kind of statement was in response to what his attorneys said yesterday,” Herman said. “We intend to appear on Oct. 4 (the scheduled hearing on the personal protection order) and will probably have more to say at that time.”

Rice’s attorney Augusta S. Dowd said they have “no additional response” on Wednesday afternoon.

The lawyers representing Rice filed their expected notice of appearance with the Circuit Court of Lee County establishing Dowd and her partner Kelly Brennan as Rice’s attorneys in the matter. They also filed motions to dimiss the petition and for expediated discovery.

Motions filed by Rice’s attorneys Wednesday reference a Title IX investigation multiple times.

The Auburn Title IX office details the various rules and stages of the investigative process, but the university’s Title IX coordinator Kelley Taylor hasn’t responded to multiple requests from the Ledger-Enquirer about the general guidelines for complaints involving student-athletes.

The alleged victim filed an order for personal protection from abuse on Sept. 12 in fear of “retaliation from a Title IX investigation.” Judge Steven T. Speakman granted a temporary order until the date of the inital hearing.

Rice also faces allegations of first-degree rape in a separate incident report filed with the Auburn Police Department on July 27. 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.

The allegations are the basis for the protective order.

Rice has not been arrested or charged.

Auburn’s police department currently categorizes the case as “inactive,” but according to Captain Lorenza Dorsey the designation doesn’t mean the investigation is closed. Mike Mastin, who is part of Rice’s defense team, said he didn’t expect any criminal charges to be filed against his client.

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

Auburn’s athletic department and coach Gus Malzahn have declined to comment on the issue.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

Landon Rice’s defense team filed three motions Wednesday in response to the petition filed for an Order for Protection from Abuse in the Circuit Court of Lee County.

Judge Steven T. Speakman granted a temporary order until the initial hearing on Oct. 4.

Kelly Brennan prepared all three of the motions submitted to the court.

Expedited motion to dismiss and dissolve order

Brennan argues the alleged victim and Rice’s relationship doesn’t meet the standard for a personal order of protection laid out in the Alabama Criminal Code.

Protection orders are designed to provide alleged victims “a flexible and speedy remedy to discourage violence and harassment against family members (bolded) and others with whom the perpetrator has continuing (bolded) contact.”

While a dating relationship falls under the standard of family members, Rice’s attorney argues the two never had such a relationship as stated in the petition filed on Sept. 12 and that the two haven’t had any contact since May 2016.

“Because there is no reasonable fear that conduct protected by the Act could occur, “good cause” does not exist to justify the existence or continuance of an Order,” the motion states.

The two allegedly exchanged text messages in June.

Consolidated Motion to Continue October 4, 2016 Hearing And For Expedited Discovery

If the judge doesn’t grant the motion to dismiss, Rice’s defense team seeks additional time “to develop the facts and evidence necessary to present to this Honorable Court.”

The motion states Rice’s hired counsel wasn’t able to get a copy of the order until Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 because of an incorrect address on the original court filing.

Rice’s attorneys only seek an extra week of time to prepare in asking the judge to reschedule the hearing for October 11, 2016.

Consolidated Expedited Discovery Requests

The motion is a request for a detailed list of witnesses the plaintiff’s lawyer plans to call and persons the alleged victim talked about the incident with.

The motion also requests information detailing the alleged victim’s usage of alcohol and drugs (prescription and recreational), cell phones, bank accounts, vacations and social media accounts.

The motion also calls for the Plaintiff to produce records related to the information requested.

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