Former Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus is suing the university for violating due process rights, Title IX provisions and breach of contract, the current Detroit Lion said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon.
Cephus, who is seeking unspecified damages for the accused violations, was arrested on second and third-degree sexual assault charges in Aug. 2018 following a sexual encounter with two 18-year-old UW students in his apartment earlier that April. The university administered a Title IX investigation of the incident, suspending Cephus from the Wisconsin football team and expelling him from UW for violating the school’s nonacademic misconduct code.
Cephus was acquitted by jury of all charges on Aug. 2, 2019 after a deliberation of just 45 minutes, and was reinstated to Wisconsin football shortly after. Cephus’ lawyer, Andrew Miltenberg, told the Associated Press that the Title IX investigation’s conclusions were “an egregious miscarriage of justice.”
“[Cephus] wants to set a precedent so that schools are more careful and more diligent in how they proceed on these cases and not just sort of rushing ahead to judgment when they know for a fact they don’t have all the evidence,” Miltenberg said.
Within the complaint, Miltenberg claims that UW-Madison used Cephus as a “scapegoat” to make up the school’s prior negligence surrounding sexual assault.
“[UW-Madison was] seeking to push for harsh male prosecutions in order to remedy its long-standing failure to address sexual assault complaints,” the complaint reads. “[Cephus was] the perfect candidate for the university to prove its investigative efforts and punish accused males in a high-profile way.”
For Cephus, his return to football for the 2019 season was a sweeping success. He led the Badgers that fall with 59 receptions for 901 yards and seven touchdowns, including crucial scores against No. 11 Michigan and No. 8 Minnesota to lead Wisconsin to victory.
"I think that was the moment where I realized what God has in store for me," Cephus said back in Sept. 2019 after a huge performance against Central Michigan in which he hauled in 130 yards and two touchdowns. "He has brought me to this point. To have a little success was a big thing for me."
I’ve worked hard to get back here. Just very thankful for the plans that God has had for me. I’m just living as his son and trusting everything that he has coming forward."
Cephus’ strong return earned him a fifth-round selection (166 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft. The wide receiver played in 13 games this past fall due to injuries within Detroit’s wide-receiver room, totaling 20 receptions and two touchdowns.
Miltenberg told the Associated Press that NFL agents and analysts believe Cephus’ expulsion cost him multiple spots in the draft.
“While we are reviewing the complaint filed by Mr. Cephus, we’re confident UW-Madison followed appropriate processes in this matter,” university spokesman John Lucas responded in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.