The United States Law Week

USC Ex-Kicker Sues School Over Sexual Misconduct Expulsion

March 22, 2019, 12:06 PM

Matthew Boermeester, the former kicker for the University of Southern California’s football team, sued the university for expelling him over what he says were unverified sexual misconduct allegations.

Boermeester, who played on a full athletic scholarship for the Trojans and kicked the winning field goal in the 2017 Rose Bowl, says in his March 21 complaint in California federal court that the university expelled him even though his girlfriend “consistently maintained, and publicly declared, that the alleged misconduct never happened.”

The suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California seeks unspecified damages on Title IX, negligence, and other grounds for the “irreparable lifelong damages to his name, reputation, academics, and career.”

The litigation stems from a report by USC student Dylan Holt that he saw a “physical altercation” between Boermeester and girlfriend Zoe Katz. Holt reported what he saw to classmate Tanner Smith, according to the complaint.

Smith, in turn, allegedly reported the alleged incident to his father, Peter Smith, a coach for the USC men’s tennis team.

Peter Smith reported the matter to USC’s Title IX office, which began an investigation in which Boermeester was removed from campus and banned from participation on the football team as he neared graduation in 2017, the complaint states.

Boermeester and Katz, then a senior captain of USC’s tennis team, had been dating for more than a year when the January 2017 incident was reported, according to the complaint.

Boermeester says the “biased and procedurally flawed” investigation was “predicated on unlawful gender stereotypes and motivated by a desire to demonstrate publicly the university’s harsh stance against male perpetrators of sexual misconduct.”

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge last year denied the placekicker’s request to have his expulsion reversed, citing Katz’s statements to investigators that abuse was part of her relationship with Boermeester and her confirmation of the January 2017 altercation.

But, in a 2017 statement attached to the new complaint, Katz also stated that USC’s actions were “horrible and unjust” and that she is “afraid of USC’s Title IX office.”

“I want to be very clear that I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt,” the statement says.

Causes of Action: Negligence, breach of contract, Title IX, intentional infliction of emotional distress

Relief: Compensatory damages, costs, fees and other awards

Response: USC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment March 22.

Attorneys: Nesenoff & Milternberg LLP

The case is Boermeester v. Univ. of S. Calif., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-02137, complaint 3/21/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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