Grand jury exonerates Dezmine Wells of all charges, Xavier still upholds suspension
The Hamilton County grand jury exonerated Dezmine Wells of the sexual abuse charges which resulted in the sophomore’s expulsion for the allegations determined as “a serious violation of the student code," by the Xavier Conduct Board.
Dezmine Wells was represented at the hearing by attorney Merlyn Shiverdecker, who has been working to overturn the initial Xavier Conduct Board’s ruling. Merlyn Shiverdecker presented a brief to the school within five days of the expulsion (10th August), citing the "unfairness of the hearing, that the evidence didn't support the decision and newly discovered evidence."
Xavier responded within four days, sliding the appeal to expulsion and standing strong by their decision.
However, Merlyn Shiverdecker expected a change in Xavier’s stance after prosecutor Joseph Deters announced the grand jury’s decision to acquit Dezmine Wells of all charges, but was instead met with disappointment.
“I would sincerely hope the institution would revisit this situation," stated Joseph Deters.
Within hours of the grand jury verdict, Xavier released a stern statement justifying the expulsion of Dezmine Wells.
"Federal Law (Title IX) and Federal Regulations and Guidances prohibit Universities from ceding student conduct matters to the criminal justice system,” Xavier released in a statement. “The Federal Law requires schools to… use the 'preponderance of evidence' standard, whereas the criminal justice system uses the 'probable cause' standard to indict, and the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard to convict.”
Xavier argued that all school’s deal issues concerning school policy violations in a similar manner to the Xavier Conduct Board. The initial decision was appealed and held in front of a jury consisting of Xavier faculty, student body members and staff. The school also emphasized that the Xavier Board’s decision was “final” in Dezmine Wells’ case.
“The XU Conduct Board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the Grand Jury,” the statement also accused.
Merlyn Shiverdecker took issues with Xavier’s allegations, that the grand jury hearing was based on partial evidence.
"I personally gave the prosecutor's office every piece of paper, every exhibit, every report, every statement, every hospital report plus a complete transcript of the hearing," Merlyn Shiverdecker stated. "For them to sit there and suggest that the prosecutor was looking at something else is disingenuous at best."
The defense attorney Merlyn Shiverdecker also argued that the school preferred ‘preponderance of evidence’ was a civil equivalent to the criminal justice system’s “probable cause.”
“If Xavier wants to keep their blinders on, there's nothing nobody can do to stop them,” stated Merlyn Shiverdecker regarding Xavier’s verdict serving Dezmine Wells an expulsion, claiming his client was “thrown under a bus” by the Conduct Board.
“I think they were committed to the process and not the fairness of the outcome,” alleged Merlyn Shiverdecker.
However, Merlyn Shiverdecker was grateful for the grand jury procedure, which “vindicated” Dezmine Wells of the “wrongdoing” and helped him earn his “good name back.”
Despite Xavier’s take on the issue, other programs are willing to accept Dezmine Wells. However, under the NCAA’s transfer rules, Demine Wells will have to sit out a year if he joins another Division I school.