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Defector Publishes More Complete Details of Billups Sexual Assault Case

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Legal documentation reveals events of the evening in question, victim’s statements, and subsequent media coverage.

Portland Trail Blazers Introduce Chauncey Billups as Head Coach Press Conference Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Update:

The original article on Defector’s recounting of the Chauncey Billups civil case follows immediately below. Scroll to the bottom for the update on OPB’s article on Portland’s “proprietary” investigation into the matter in conjunction with Billups’ hiring.


Defector, the spiritual successor to the classic sports website Deadspin, has published an extensive look at the court documentation, accusations, settlements, and media coverage surrounding the sexual assault lawsuit filed against Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups. The incident in question occurred in 1997, when Billups was a rookie with the Boston Celtics. Billups and three other defendants settled with their accuser in a civil suit which concluded in 2000. Today Defector published an article by Diana Moskovitz which referenced over 1400 pages of legal documentation, including a link to a 10-page statement detailing the plaintiff’s description of events on the night in question. Those triggered by such accounts will want to use caution when reading parts of the Moskovitz article and the entirety of the assault description.

Moskovitz begins by quoting both Billups and Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey in the press conference following Billups’ hiring. She outlines Olshey’s claims to have conducted an investigation into the matter and his confidence that any sexual contact that occurred that evening was “not non-consensual”. She also quotes Billups’ statements about how those events have shaped his life and how his perception differs from media accounts. She finishes the opening section by recounting how the Blazers shut down any further questioning, along with Olshey’s injunction to “take our word” on the matter.

Then Moskovitz explains that the vast majority of “sealed” documents from the lawsuit are actually open to public inspection. She then opened up details of the case.

Doe said in her lawsuit that she had known Walker since May of that year and they dated “from time to time.” She also knew Irvin because he lived with Walker. On the night of Nov. 9, 1997, she met up with Walker, Irvin, Billups, and Mercer at a Boston comedy club, and she was part of a group of men and women who all were hanging out there that night. When the evening ended, Irvin told her to get into a car with Billups, which she did, and Billups drove her, Mercer, and Irvin to Walker’s home, where she was assaulted in Irvin’s room. Doe said that she tried to stop the assault “but found she was not strong enough to protect herself from her assailants.” Doe said she could not fully recall what happened because she was unconscious for part of the night, but some moments she did recall.

The story does contain some legal gray area. The plaintiff was not able to identify Billups or co-defendant Ron Mercer in the alleged assault as clearly as she did co-defendant Michael Irvin. She had been in the company of those men throughout the evening. From her statement [trigger warning]:

Plaintiff observed that there were two other men in the room with Irvin. Plaintiff observed that these two men were also completely naked. Plaintiff could not see these men’s faces because they were standing above her and she could not lift her head from the bed. On information and belief, these two men were Billups and Mercer, the men with whom she had come to Waltham that evening.

Per the article, Billups, Mercer, and Irvin claimed that sex between themselves and the plaintiff was consensual and occurred at Mercer’s house, and that no intercourse happened at Walker’s home. The plaintiff’s statement addresses this as well:

Plaintiff has no recollection of ever having been at the Mercer home in Waltham. She denies any sexual contact with anyone at Mercer’s home. If, as Mercer, Irvin, and Billups have claimed, she was taken to the Mercer home on the night in question, it was against her will and when she was unconscious. If any sexual acts were committed in the Mercer home, such conduct was without her consent, against her will, and in violation of her civil rights...and her rights under state law.

Regardless of location, the woman denies any possibility that intercourse with Mercer, Irvin, or Billups was consensual.

The Moskovitz article describes the aftermath of the event [trigger warning]:

Doe said she lost consciousness and when she woke up, she was still in Irvin’s bedroom, naked, with Irvin asleep next to her, and used condoms and their wrappers strewn all over the floor. She rushed out of the room and called a friend, saying “something bad” had happened to her. She found Dennis Smith, another man who she said had been at the comedy club, who was asleep in the basement. Smith went upstairs, then told her that Walker wanted to talk to her before she left. She said no to that and “pleaded with Smith to take her home,” which he did. While driving, Smith tried to talk to her about what happened, but Doe didn’t want to. Doe said she was “trembling and crying uncontrollably,” so much she could not eat the food that Smith had bought her. Smith told her not to “tell” about what had happened.

It also describes the events of the next day [strong trigger warning]:

After she got home, Doe said in her complaint that was vomiting and felt severe pain in “her back, rectum, legs, neck and throat.” She could not eat or drink, and she could not stop trembling or crying. Later that day, she went to Boston Medical Center. She said in her amended complaint that the exam found bruises on her body as well as injuries to her throat, cervix, and rectum. The injuries to her back “were consistent with the plaintiff having been dragged across a rug.” Per her complaint, she was diagnosed with shock.

A rape kit was done and photographs were taken of her injuries. Sperm were retrieved, but at that time it was not yet established if the sperm were from Mercer, Irvin, or Billups. That same day, according to her complaint, she went to the police.

The article contains much more than we’ve shared here. It explains the lawsuit maneuverings, media coverage, how Mercer, Billups, and Irvin described the incident as the plaintiff trying to extort young, famous athletes, and the reaction of her lawyers to that claim. It’s the most extensive, definitive piece published on the topic thus far, well worth reading for those concerned.

The Blazers signed Chauncey Billups to a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year.

Blazer’s Edge has published several articles surrounding the hiring of Coach Billups:

Dia Miller reflects on the impact of the hire

Five women share in their own words how the Billups hiring affects them

The Dave and Dia Podcast covers the press conference and its after-effects

From the media at large:

Jason Quick of The Athletic describes Portland’s investigation process

Activist Brenda Tracy responds to the hire

Henry Abbott of Truehoop shares details of the hiring process and press conference bungling


Update:

Conrad Wilson and Tony Shick of OPB published an article today detailing their investigation into the Trail Blazers’ investigation of the Chauncey Billups court case in conjunction with his hiring. They contacted several key figures in the case, including the plaintiff’s attorney and law enforcement figures. They found that the Blazers had not contacted them directly.

The team’s review did not obtain information directly from several primary sources, including the accuser.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” said Margaret A. Burnham, attorney for Jane Doe.

Burnham, a law professor and director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern School of Law in Boston, represented Doe in the 1998 federal civil lawsuit against Billups and three other men, two of whom were teammates. Burnham said she remains Doe’s attorney 23 years later and that “we stand by the allegations.”

Neither did the Blazers contact Thomas Reilly, the former district attorney who led the investigation involving Billups and chose not to press charges. Reilly maintains Billups’ innocence.

“You and your colleague can continue to work this story until the cows come home but you will not be able to change the bottom line … .” Reilly said in an email. “Mr. Billups is telling the truth about the incident you refer to. You called me and I’ve tried to help you but enough is enough … case closed.”

The investigation also revealed that although the independent agent tasked with conducting the inquiry did request material from the police department in Waltham, Massachusetts, it’s not clear that he actually could have obtained any.

Massachusetts law prohibits police from releasing any information about reports of sexual assault or domestic violence, meaning any tapes or police reports would have been difficult for an independent investigator to procure.

Wilson and Shick got a quote from Elizabeth Tippett, professor at the University of Oregon School of Law who has published work on the #MeToo movement. From the article:

She said the fact that the accuser’s attorney wasn’t contacted indicates to her the team’s inquiry was closer to a reference check than a full investigation.

“Maybe they didn’t want to add more fuel to the intrigue. But by not disclosing it, they might make it seem like more than it is,” Tippett said. “The reason why you’re saying you hired an independent investigator is because you made the reasonable inference, the public might not trust you. And then now you’re saying, just trust us.”

Tippett said the Blazers’ handling of the coaching search and announcement follows a pattern she’s seen in the #MeToo era.

“The #MeToo related costs are something businesses are just willing to eat,” Tippett said. “You’re delivering a message to the public: You don’t really care that much about these allegations or at least you don’t care about them as much as you care about other things that matter more.”

This investigation comes in the wake of Olshey indicating to reporters that the Blazers had done “everything in their power vet that incident”, that he was firmly convinced that any sexual contact was consensual, and that the public would need to “take our word for it” that due diligence had been served.