‘The damage was done’: Cephus’ lawyer says he’s seeking financial compensation, policy change

MADISON, Wis. – The attorney representing former Badger football player Quintez Cephus in a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin says the legal action centers around a need for policy change.

In August 2018, Cephus was suspended indefinitely from the team after two women accused him of sexual assault. Shortly after, he was expelled from the university, while both a Title IX case and criminal case remained active against him.

Roughly a year later, Cephus was found not guilty and acquitted of his charges, which included third-degree sexual assault and a second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim. Days after, Cephus asked to be readmitted as a student, and on August 20, 2019, he was.

In 2020, Cephus was drafted into the National Football League. His attorney, Andrew Miltenberg, said it’s a second chance very few players get.

TIMELINE: Quintez Cephus’ accusation, dismissal, trial and reinstatement

August 19, 2018: Quintez Cephus announces he will take a leave of absence from UW Football.

August 21, 2018: A police report claims two women were allegedly sexually assaulted by Quintez Cephus in his apartment after a night of drinking, Cephus officially suspended from team.

August 21, 2018: UW officials respond, saying they “view allegations of sexual assault “with deep concern.” Cephus later expelled.

July 29, 2019: After nearly a year removed from the university, jury selection begins for Cephus’ case.

July 30, 2019: A jury of 8 women, 6 men, are selected to hear the case.

August 2, 2019: Cephus found not guilty following week-long trial.

August 7, 2019: Cephus asks for readmission to UW-Madison.

August 8, 2019: Badger football team says it would welcome Cephus back should be be reinstated.

August 20, 2019: UW-Madison reinstates Cephus as a student.

April 25, 2020: Detroit Lions select Quintez Cephus in 5th round of NFL Draft.

Sept. 16, 2020: Defendant in original case sues UW for reinstating Cephus.

Feb 23, 2021: Cephus sues UW for handling of case.

 

Quintez is the anomaly,” the New York City attorney said. “Most student athletes, most young men, do not easily recover from this.”

Miltenberg said the lawsuit, a 60-plus page document which pins UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Title IX coordinator Lauren Hasselbacher and the UW Board of Regents as defendants, aims to prevent what happened to Cephus from happening to other athletes. A copy of the filing can be viewed here. (Quintez Cephus Complaint)

What we’re arguing for is not who’s right or wrong, it’s for the process,” Miltenberg said. “What’s important for him is to not see other students or other student athletes, because of their visibility on campus, being treated abusively in these situations.”

Miltenberg said he’s spoken with NFL scouts who believe Cephus would have been a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick had he not been expelled.

By the university of Wisconsin not sitting back while the criminal case unfolded, they really damaged him and his near-term future,” he said. “As soon as he was acquitted, the school turned around and essentially said ‘Oops, we made a mistake,’ and they reinstated him. But the damage was done at this point and the young man suffered.”

University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone says while UW official are reviewing the complaint, they’re confident the university followed appropriate processes. 

While Miltenberg said the case could take roughly 15-30 months to play out, he’s hopeful it will result in a change.

“(Quintez wants to) come back to the University of Wisconsin and say ‘Look, you did a terrible job on this, we need to do something so other student athletes don’t undergo the same process, because it’s an unfair one’.”