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USF officials dropped from free speech case

Published Sep. 13, 2005

A federal appeals court has dropped some top University of South Florida officials from a First Amendment lawsuit, even while stating that campus police officers violated a New College student's constitutional rights when they seized a videotape she was playing.

USF President Betty Castor and some of her top administrators should not have to answer to the charges of the student, according to an order issued Tuesday by three judges of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

The student, Amy Andre, was stopped two years ago from showing on an outside dormitory wall a tape of naked women, prompting the lawsuit.

At the same time, the judges wrote, five USF campus police officers apparently violated "clearly established law" by seizing Andre's videotape, titled Annie Sprinkle's Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop. The tape had been shown in a New College course about lesbianism.

The court ordered that the case continue in Tampa against the USF police officers.

George Rahdert, the attorney for Andre, said Thursday that "as far as we're concerned, the core of the complaint has been unequivocally sustained by the appeals court."

"The main actors are basically adjudged by the 11th Circuit to have violated Amy Andre's constitutional rights," said Rahdert, who also represents the St. Petersburg Times on First Amendment issues.

No USF official could be reached for comment late Thursday.