In June, Emerald reporting revealed that Kavell Bigby-Williams, an Oregon basketball player on the 2016-17 Final Four team, had been under open police investigation for sexual assault for the entire basketball season.
Bigby-Williams had been accused of sexually assaulting a female at Gillette College in Wyoming, where he had played basketball before transferring to Oregon. The alleged incident occurred while Bigby-Williams was visiting his former school in September 2016.
Police in Gillette closed the case without filing charges in July, after the Emerald story broke.
A recent report in Sports Illustrated by former Emerald sports editor Kenny Jacoby called into question how the University of Oregon handled the situation and whether it followed its own protocols after learning of the investigation in Wyoming.
Following the Sports Illustrated story, U.S. senator Ron Wyden (D., OR) sent a letter to UO demanding answers for how it handled the case. UO president Michael Schill responded last week.
Below is a timeline of events and outline of major players involved in the story.
Kavell Bigby-Williams: Forward on the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball 2016-17 Final Four team. Transferred from Gillette College in Wyoming, where he was investigated for sexual assault after visiting in September 2016, after he had transferred to Oregon.
Kathy Flynn: UOPD detective who was asked by Northern Wyoming Community College District police to conduct a follow-up interview on the incident with Bigby-Williams.
Officer Brooke Tibbetts: Campus police officer at Gillette College responsible for interviewing witnesses, alleged victim’s friends and roommates, and gathering evidence.
Greg Walker: UO’s athletic department spokesman.
Dana Altman: UO’s men’s basketball head coach.
Rob Mullens: UO’s athletic director.
Lisa Peterson: UO’s deputy athletic director and deputy Title IX coordinator.
Darci Heroy: UO’s Title IX coordinator.
The following is a timeline of events in the investigation.
Sept. 17 to Sept. 18, 2016: Bigby-Williams allegedly sexually assaults a woman between 10 p.m. on the 17th and 3 a.m. on the 18th. The alleged assault reportedly took place at an apartment near Gillette College, which is part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District where Bigby-Williams was a student before transferring to UO in the summer before the 2016-17 school year.
Sept. 19, 2016: Northern Wyoming Community College District Police Department starts an investigation of the sexual assault following a police report filed by the victim’s friend. Tibbetts began to investigate Bigby-Williams for first-degree sexual assault. According to the police report provided by NWCCDPD, Tibbetts spoke with the alleged victim’s friends, who witnessed her throwing up.
According to the police report, Tibbetts took photos of bruises on the alleged victim’s neck and two dark stains on her sheets. Tibbetts took the alleged victim’s clothing and sheets as evidence.
Sept. 28, 2016: Bigby-Williams is in Eugene for fall term after transferring from Gillette College to UO as a student athlete. NWCCDPD calls UOPD requesting UOPD to conduct a follow-up interview on the incident. UOPD detective Flynn reviews the police report, texts and photos provided by NWCCDPD.
According to UO, Peterson tells Mullens that UOPD is looking into the case but Peterson does not share specifics regarding the allegations. UO says that Heroy reached out to UOPD for more information but did not receive extensive details due to UOPD’s protocol of “not sharing detailed information from an outside agency’s investigation.” UO says that Heroy relied upon UOPD to provide her with further information if it became available.
According to Walker, Altman and Mullens knew that Bigby-Williams’ contact information was requested by Flynn, but they were unaware of the circumstances surrounding the request.
Flynn attempts to call Bigby-Williams to discuss the incident; however, he informs her he is busy and will call her the next day.
Sept. 29, 2016: According to UOPD’s police report, Flynn calls Bigby-Williams again and leaves a message after he did not pick up. Half an hour after leaving Bigby-Williams a voicemail, Flynn says she receives a call from attorney Nick Carter, informing her to not speak with Bigby-Williams. Carter is also an assistant coach on the Gillette College basketball team.
Late September to early October 2016: Based on the information discussed by Heroy and UOPD, UO says there is not enough information to contradict the wishes of the survivor, who didn’t want to make a report.
Following this decision, Heroy does not discuss the investigation with Director of Student Conduct Sandy Weintraub. Under UO’s Standard Operating Procedures for Sexual Misconduct, which they call “guidelines,” Heroy must notify Weintraub. However, in their response to Wyden, UO claims that due to the complexity of the situations these “are not strict policies that require absolute adherence, nor should there be.” Despite not reporting the incident to Weintraub, UO says that Heroy and Peterson followed university protocol.
Nov. 7, 2016: Ducks kick off their season against Northwest Christian University. Bigby-Williams scores 10 points and gets eight rebounds.
April 1, 2017: Ducks finish their season with a loss in the Final Four to University of North Carolina.
April 20, 2017: Bigby-Williams requests release from UO to transfer to Louisiana State University.
June 20, 2017: Bigby-Williams commits to transfer to LSU.
June 21, 2017: Then-Daily Emerald sports editor Kenny Jacoby publishes a story revealing that Bigby-Williams played the entire season while under investigation for sexual assault.
June 23, 2017: Two days after Jacoby’s story publishes, Bigby-Williams makes a statement to NWCCD police. He tells police that he had consensual sex that night with a woman and he did not know that she was sick or drunk. He says that he did not do anything to cause physical harm to her and that the marks on her neck were hickeys.
NWCCD police then forward the case to County Attorney Ron Wirthwein.
July 26, 2017: NWCCDPD closes their investigation after Wirthwein declines to press criminal charges against Bigby-Williams, citing “the victim’s wishes and some of the circumstances surrounding the case facts.”
Oct. 25, 2017: Jacoby publishes his follow-up piece in Sports Illustrated, examining how the university failed to follow Title IX guidelines.
Nov. 6, 2017: Following Jacoby’s article in Sports Illustrated, Wyden sends UO President Michael Schill a letter stating his concerns regarding how the university handled the investigation.
“If these reports are accurate, they raise major questions about the university’s commitment to creating and maintaining a safe campus environment,” Wyden wrote.
Nov. 13, 2017: Schill responds to Wyden’s questions with a 42-page document containing a statement from Schill, answers to Wyden’s questions and the annual 2016 Title IX report.
The document contends that UO followed the proper processes, stating, “The Title IX coordinator and deputy Title IX coordinator/deputy athletic director followed both university policies and guidelines.”
Schill also says that nothing in the university’s policies indicate that Bigby-Williams’ status as a student athlete “should either cause the university to initiate a conduct proceeding against the survivor’s wishes or suspend the athlete from athletic participation prior to a finding of responsibility or a showing that his conduct creates a risk to the campus community or the athletic program.”
Schill’s statement included an offer to have a meeting with Wyden, which the senator accepted.
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Correction: This post was updated to include AP style.