Clarett Files $2.5 Million Federal Lawsuit Against OSU
Suspended Tailback Claims University Violated Privacy Rights
UPDATED: 4:51 p.m. EDT October 11, 2003
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Suspended Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett filed a federal lawsuit Friday accusing the university of violating his privacy rights by giving police information from an NCAA investigation.
Clarett is seeking at least $2.5 million in damages from the university. He also asks for a court order preventing prosecutors from using the information as evidence in a misdemeanor case accusing Clarett of filing a false police report.
Cleveland television station WJW provided The Associated Press with a copy of the lawsuit, filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Columbus.
Percy Squire, Clarett's Columbus attorney, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Ohio State spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said university attorneys had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.
Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, traveling with the defending national champion Buckeyes for Saturday night's game at Wisconsin, said he hadn't heard about the lawsuit and declined comment.
Clarett is suspended for his sophomore season for accepting money from a family friend and for lying about it to investigators. He is separately suing the NFL, asking a judge to throw out a rule that prevents him from entering the draft until he has been out of high school for three years.
Clarett is accused of filing an exaggerated theft report with campus police in April after a dealership's car he was borrowing was broken into. The police report said cash and stereo equipment worth thousands of dollars was taken.
Clarett has pleaded innocent to one count of falsification, which has a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
According to the latest lawsuit, Clarett discussed the police report with Ohio State and NCAA officials while they were investigating whether the running back had violated any NCAA rules.
The lawsuit says Clarett's statements were "protected educational records" and should not have been released without a subpoena or Clarett's consent.
"OSU and the NCAA elicited statements from Mr. Clarett in this coercive environment and released those statements to the city of Columbus, Ohio, law enforcement officials," the lawsuit says.
NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard declined to comment.
Last month, Clarett filed a complaint in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, seeking information from Ohio State to help determine if he should file a lawsuit charging that his rights were violated.
Clarett asked the court to allow his attorneys to take sworn statements from university officials about the charge of lying to police. That complaint said the university, by withholding information, had subjected him to prosecution.
The lawsuit comes on the same day that NewsChannel 4 reported that a threatening arrived in Clarett's mother's mailbox last weekend and was reported to police.
The letter reportedly contained racial references and a death threat against Maurice Clarett.
Police said that Michelle Clarett opened the letter at her Youngstown home after thinking it was junk mail. According to a police report, the letter contained a threatening message that was typed from "OSU Cheerleaders."
The letter stated that "black men should stay away from white women," among other racial statements. At the end of the letter, it was stated they would "kill and bomb the place," and they will "use police to find him," according to the report.
Police said that the letter had a Youngstown postmark.
Authorities told Youngstown television station WFMJ that a similar letter was sent to another person, but they would not reveal the recipient.
Clarett set Ohio State freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns last season as the Buckeyes won the national championship for the first time in 34 years.
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It's a shame that some idiots have to send threatening racial slur infested letters to his mother.