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Gophers' Reggie Lynch declines to attend ‘unfair’ appeals hearings, accepts expulsion

Minnesota Golden Gophers center Reggie Lynch (22) practices for their first round game of the NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Gophers basketball player Reggie Lynch has declined to attend appeals hearings today and Monday and accepted the findings of a school investigation that determined he was responsible for two sexual assaults on campus.

Attorney Ryan Pacyga said two separate investigations by the school’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action were biased against Lynch, and that the appeals hearings were flawed.

Among his complaints: Training for volunteer panelists in student conduct cases is biased toward the accuser, and the accused is not allowed to ask probing questions because it is considered victim blaming.

“That’s why Reggie’s hurting, and that’s why Reggie feels like a victim,” Pacyga about a dozen reporters at his downtown Minneapolis offices on Thursday.

Lynch, 23, has been found responsible for two incidents of sexual misconduct in separate investigations by the school’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. One appeals hearings was set for 1 p.m. Thursday, the other for Monday.

“The reality is that if Reggie goes into these hearings, in light of what’s happened here, he doesn’t stand a fair chance,” Pacyga said. “And if he wins, miraculously, people are still going to say, ‘He’s a rapist that got off.’ … It’s a zero-sum gain for Reggie Lynch.”

Lynch and his mother, Marlene, attended the news conference and read statements.

“I had nothing to hide, the truth did not set me free, however,” Lynch said. “In today’s climate, people will automatically assume you are guilty if any accusations have been made. … I am angry and feel helpless and powerless.”

The decision officially ends Lynch’s career as a player and student at Minnesota.

He was suspended from participating in basketball games by athletics director Mark Coyle but had been allowed to practice and attend classes while appealing the decisions. In once case, the EOAA office recommended Lynch be banned from campus until at least Aug. 1, 2020; in the other, the recommendation was immediate expulsion.

Lynch, a senior from Edina, has been investigated for sexual misconduct three times since transferring from Illinois State after his sophomore season, the first after he was arrested my university police on suspicion of criminal sexual misconduct for an incident in his dorm room on May 8, 2016.

In that case, Lynch was suspended during the EOAA investigation and reinstated when he was found not responsible by a preponderance of the evidence, the standard for such school investigations.

Marlene Lynch, who stood by her son and held his hand during an hour-long presentation by Pacyga, said, “We do not feel the appeal process will be fair, unbiased and balanced. … I believe Reggie 100 percent.”