Sacred Heart lacrosse players investigated in rape claim

November 24, 2009 2:28:51 PM PST
The attorney for a Sacred Heart University lacrosse player charged with helping two teammates sexually assault a woman said Tuesday that the accusations are a gross exaggeration of alcohol-fueled hijinks. Three lacrosse players at a Connecticut college have been charged with conspiring to sexually assault a female student.

Wayne Keeney, the lawyer of a college student charged in an alleged sexual assault, says the allegations are "grossly exaggerated.

Three lacrosse players at Sacred Heart University are under arrest after an incident last weekend, which has left the small campus buzzing.

On Saturday night the alleged victim and a 19-year old lacrosse player were having consensual sex in a seventh floor dorm room. According to police, that player then held the girl down and called for two teammates to join him. After a struggle, the pair ran off.

The three players have been charged with conspiracy to commit sexual assault.

Keeney says the two players came into the room naked as part of a drunken prank.

Neither friend had sexual contact with the woman, Keeney said. He said alcohol was involved and that the woman was not aware the two men had entered the room. Attorneys for the two friends declined to comment Tuesday on the case or the arrests.

All three men were charged Sunday with conspiracy to commit sexual assault, police said.

Sacred Heart released a statement, which reads:

"We take allegations involving student safety very seriously and it is university policy to immediately suspend accused students pending a judicial review."

Keeney confirmed that all three have been suspended from school and the lacrosse team.

Keeney said the bed was lofted 5 feet off the floor, raising questions about the woman's description of events.

"I can appreciate that this young woman was put in an embarrasing set of circumstances through some sophomoric, college-boy antics, but there's no indication from what I can see or discern so far that there was any sexual assualt there," Keeney said.

Sacred Heart finished 4-10 in lacrosse last spring, including a 1-5 record in the Colonial Athletic Conference. The team opens its 2010 season Feb. 12 against Massachusetts and is scheduled to end May 9 at Duke, whose program was rocked by scandal in 2006 when a stripper falsely accused three players of raping her at a team party. Charges against the players were dropped in 2007.