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Former USF football player sues university after rape charges dropped

Kevaughn Dingle, 22, said in the federal lawsuit that the school “rushed to judgment” because of factors including the “Me Too” movement and a prior campus assault case.
Kevaughn Dingle was on the USF football roster for only one season before being removed from the team.
Kevaughn Dingle was on the USF football roster for only one season before being removed from the team. [ USF Football ]
Published Dec. 29, 2021

A University of South Florida football player kicked off the team after he was accused of rape has filed a federal discrimination suit against the university.

Charges against Kevaughn Dingle, 22, were dropped by the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. But Dingle said in the lawsuit that his arrest by campus police in November 2017, his expulsion and the resulting news coverage “destroyed” his life.

According to the suit, filed Dec. 8 in U.S. District Court in Tampa, USF “rushed to a judgment” in the case for a number of reasons — the emergence at the time of the “Me Too” women’s rights movement, mistrust toward Black men, flawed investigative and judicial processes, internal bias in favor of female accusers and embarrassment over a prior USF assault case.

“White students accused of the same conduct violations as (Dingle) were provided less severe sanctions, subject to more thorough and time-intensive investigations, and provided due process during the investigation and hearing process,” the lawsuit stated.

Dingle insisted to investigators that his sexual encounter with another student, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Roe, was consensual, the lawsuit said. There were “outrageous inconsistencies” in the version of events she gave investigators, the lawsuit said.

Police said they had “developed sufficient cause” to arrest Dingle on a charge of sexual battery. But the State Attorney’s Office disagreed, deciding not to pursue charges against Dingle because of a lack of criminal evidence, the lawsuit said.

The office could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

USF never issued a statement after the charges were dropped, the lawsuit said. The university will have no comment on the pending litigation, spokesperson Althea Johnson said Tuesday.

Neither Dingle nor his attorneys, Kenneth G. Turkel and Anthony J. Severino of Tampa, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Pembroke Pines native released a statement on Twitter in 2018 maintaining his innocence and criticizing USF.

“False accusations hurt the real victims of sex crimes,” Dingle wrote. “The accused deserves to have an unbiased investigation and a real chance to defend himself. The State Attorney’s Office gave me both of those things, but USF did not.”

Dingle and Roe got together at USF’s on-campus Holly Apartments on Nov. 17, 2017, after having a number of conversations about having sex, the lawsuit said. Earlier in the week, they had met, exchanged Snapchat usernames and decided to meet at Dingle’s dorm room after Roe got out of class one day.

Dingle, 18 at the time, was arrested the same day and an internal investigation was launched by the university. It concluded Dec. 17 with the determination that Dingle broke USF rules and would be expelled.

Still, Dingle was forced to pay for on-campus housing — even after the criminal charges were dropped — in order to have his transcripts released to other universities, the lawsuit said. Up until the arrest, his housing costs had been paid through a football scholarship, the lawsuit said.

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Dingle didn’t land another Division I college football scholarship even though he had been widely recruited while playing in high school in South Florida, the lawsuit said.

He went on to play football with Garden City Community College in Kansas and with Mississippi Valley State University, according to the schools’ social media pages.

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