A federal court jury on Friday upheld the validity of a release agreement signed by a woman who says she was gang-raped by Cincinnati Bengals in 1990, freeing the players of any criminal or civil liability.
The woman, identified as Victoria C., filed a lawsuit in April 1992, about six months after signing the release. The jurors listened to 11 days of testimony and reached a verdict after about six hours of deliberations.
Lawyers for the plaintiff wanted the release thrown out on grounds that it was signed under duress, without legal counsel and for insufficient compensation.
The lawsuit, which had been set for trial June 7, sought damages from the NFL club and 19 current or former players _ 12 accused of raping her at a Seattle-area hotel and seven of standing by and doing nothing to help her. Victoria C.'s lawyers said Friday that they plan to appeal the decision to consider the release agreement separately from the rape allegations.
Victoria C., a 36-year-old mother of four who has been married four times, told jurors she believed the document embodied an agreement she and former Bengals player Ickey Woods had reached over the phone: that she would keep quiet in exchange for $30,000 and help with expenses she attributed to the alleged assault.
The woman's lawyers said she contacted the Bengals in late September 1991 but that she was not competent to sign the agreement without counsel. Mental-health practitioners testified that Victoria C. suffered post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the shotgun suicide of a boyfriend in her presence when she was 16, and that she was further hampered by below-average intelligence.
Six players said they had consensual sex with Victoria C. Defense lawyers claimed she blackmailed defendants.
Klecko receives jail term
PHILADELPHIA _ Former New York Jets All-Pro defensive lineman Joe Klecko was sentenced to three months in prison for lying to a federal grand jury that investigated bogus insurance claims.
Klecko, one of 67 indicted in October on charges stemming from the submission of phony claims totaling more than $5-million, was ordered to remain under home detention for three months after his release from jail, to pay a $3,000 fine, and to perform 150 hours of community service.
Chargers-Cardinals: Phoenix signed San Diego offensive tackle Harry Swayne to a three-year, $5.5-million offer sheet. The Chargers have seven days to match the offer.
Montana update: Joe Montana visited the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz., saying he canceled a visit to the Bucs this week because he had enough information and wanted to get back to the San Francisco area for Easter weekend. Montana, who has a year left on a contract that prevents his being traded against his wishes, said he wants to play three more years and take another team to the Super Bowl. The quarterback also said he hopes to make a decision next week.
Seahawks: Lloyd's of London said it will not pursue appeals of the federal lawsuit won by the team and former linebacker Brian Bosworth over payments for Bosworth's career-ending injuries.
Redskins: Wide receiver Art Monk will return for a 14th season but will not be a starter, the Washington Post reported.
Cowboys: Quarterback Steve Beuerlein told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he may play another year with Dallas.