New Mexico St players file sexual assault lawsuit – KGET 17

Two former New Mexico State basketball players filed a lawsuit Wednesday, alleging they were sexually assaulted by teammates and that the coaching staff and other administrators did nothing when they reported the assaults.

The lawsuit was filed by Deuce Benjamin and another player who said three teammates forced their pants down below their ankles and then assaulted them. The Associated Press does not typically name alleged sexual assault victims, but Benjamin previously mentioned the alleged assaults while announcing his departure from the team on social media.

Chancellor Dan Arvizu canceled the season in February after Benjamin made his allegations to school police. Arvizu framed the allegations as stemming from an episode of hazing. The civil suit, filed in Las Cruces County District Court in New Mexico, questioned that description, saying, “When conduct goes too far and crosses the line into non-consensual touching, it is not mere solicitation; it is beating and sexual assault.”

The lawsuit names the NMSU board of directors, two former coaching staff members and three former players as defendants. It seeks “amounts to reasonably compensate” the plaintiffs for their damages, as well as punitive damages against the defendants. One count of the lawsuit alleges sexual assault, battery and false imprisonment.

School spokesman Justin Bannister said New Mexico State is working with a law firm to investigate the allegations.

“While NMSU does not comment on pending litigation, we want to assure everyone that this matter is being taken seriously,” Bannister said.

The lawsuit says that when the player, whose name is not being used by the AP, first approached an assistant coach about the incidents, the coach responded by laughing and saying, “What do you want me to do about it?” It says the player discussed the incidents three times with another the coach, who “said he was looking into it and would issue suspensions,” but nothing was done.

The lawsuit alleges that one of the numerous attacks on Benjamin occurred in front of a group of women in a hotel room where the players were staying before an away game. It says one of the players “exposed Deuce’s backside and violently grabbed him, causing him great pain and humiliation. All of this was happening in front of the women, which only contributed to Deuce’s degradation.”

Benjamin eventually told his father, a former New Mexico State star and current high school coach in Las Cruces, about the attacks. His father, William Benjamin, tried to reach the coach and the school’s athletic director, Mario Moccia, but neither returned his calls, according to the lawsuit. This led to the player taking his story to campus police, who opened an investigation.

The lawsuit alleges that the school’s new coach, Jason Hooten, told Benjamin, who was the New Mexico Gatorade High School Player of the Year before signing with the Aggies, that he should try to find a new place to play.

In a section titled “The downward spiral of the NMSU basketball program,” the lawsuit describes the events leading up to the fatal shooting of a student at the University of New Mexico by NMSU player Mike Peek on Nov. 19, 2022. Peake, who has not been charged in the shooting, was shown on video acting in self-defense after student Brandon Travis pulled a gun on him. The morning after the shooting, most of the NMSU players were loaded onto the team bus, which had to be chased by police to question coaching staff and witnesses.

Benjamin’s departure leaves just one player on the team’s roster for the 2022-23 season.

It comes less than two weeks after he told Arvizu he would leave immediately, rather than wait until his previously scheduled departure date of June 30.


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