Another Woman Sues A Former UW Football Player

Another Woman Sues A Former UW Football Player
SEATTLE - For the second time this year, the University of Washington and the Sigma Chi fraternity have been sued by a woman who claims she was raped by a football player following an off-campus party.

Lawyers for Fallon Schumsky, 19, said she attended a party on May 30, 2002, at which she drank several beers before being handed a mixed drink in an open container. She contends she wound up going back to her off-campus apartment with Eric Shyne, a bench-warmer for the football team, who then raped her.

Schumsky's lawyers filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Tuesday. It names Shyne, the university, and the two fraternities that sponsored the party - Sigma Chi and Beta Theta Pi - as defendants. Shyne could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, a 22-year-old woman identified as J.M.L. sued the university and Sigma Chi, as well as Jerramy Stevens, a former Washington Husky who now plays for the Seattle Seahawks, claiming Stevens raped her outside a Sigma Chi party in 2000. Stevens says the contact was consensual.

Attorneys Becky Roe and Kathy Goater, who are representing both women, said the university and the fraternities must be held responsible because they provided the alcohol that the women consumed and failed to supervise guests at the parties.

Sigma Chi co-sponsored the May 2002 party at Beta Theta Pi.

"The fraternities' conduct that evening was irresponsible and reprehensible," Goater said, while the university has "turned a blind eye and a deaf ear" in refusing to exhibit stricter control over the fraternities and the athletes.

Even though Shyne has no criminal record, they said, the university knew or should have known he was a danger to Schumsky, because "student athletes commit a disproportionate number of sexual assaults on university campuses." The university failed to protect her from him, the lawsuit alleged.

Andrew Cooley, a Seattle lawyer who is defending the university, said the school has never tried to regulate the behavior of its 39,000 students off campus.

"Our relationship with the fraternities does not include policing their social functions, let alone following their social guests back to their apartments to prevent a sexual assault from occurring," Cooley said Tuesday.

"These are not university issues. They're societal issues. If anybody's come up with a way to eliminate episodic alcohol abuse among young people, we haven't heard of it."

Shyne was recruited as a cornerback out of Pomona High School in Pomona, Calif. He redshirted his first year, in 2001, and never actually played a game for the Huskies before leaving the university - reportedly for academic reasons - this year.

A lawyer for Sigma Chi did not immediately return a call, and phone calls to Beta Theta Pi went unanswered.

King County prosecutors reviewed Schumsky's allegations last year. In October, they declined to file charges due to a lack of evidence, said spokesman Dan Donohoe.

Civil lawsuits require a lesser burden of proof than criminal cases - a "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Mike Hunsinger, a lawyer who also represents Stevens, represented Shyne during the criminal investigation and said he hasn't heard from him since. Hunsinger said he could not comment on the lawsuit without Shyne's permission.

"I don't even know where he is," Hunsinger said.

Cooley said the university recognizes fraternities as off-campus, private entities as long as they agree to certain conditions, such as registering their parties with the state Liquor Control Board and requiring all members to attend awareness classes on sexual assault and alcohol abuse.

The university's athletic department does reserve the right to kick players off teams if they're convicted of a felony while enrolled, he added.

Roe and Goater alleged that the university had cited the fraternities - Sigma Chi more frequently - in the past few years for policy violations, but no effective steps were taken to prevent future violations, including the serving of alcohol to underage partygoers.