Deposition order set in Brown University rape suit

A former Brown University student who says he was falsely branded a rapist must be questioned under oath before his lawyers can speak with the woman who accused him, a federal magistrate ruled F...

A former Brown University student who says he was falsely branded a rapist must be questioned under oath before his lawyers can speak with the woman who accused him, a federal magistrate ruled Friday.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge David Martin also said the woman should be questioned on the next possible day after William McCormick III, who sued his accuser as well as Brown, is deposed. The dates of the depositions weren't immediately set.

McCormick says in a lawsuit he was falsely accused of rape in September 2006 by a fellow freshman and the daughter of a wealthy donor and alumnus of the Ivy League school.

He says he was removed from campus without being told of the rape accusation and that the university's handling of the case was influenced by the fact that the woman's father was a major contributor to and fundraiser for Brown.

McCormick signed a confidential agreement the following month — under the threat of possible criminal charges, he says — in which he agreed to withdraw from Brown in exchange for the accuser dropping the matter. He transferred the next year to Bucknell University, where he is now a senior, and has said he never touched the woman.

The Associated Press does not identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, and is not naming her father to avoid identifying the daughter, who graduated last spring. She maintains she was raped. Brown says it acted properly.

The depositions of McCormick and his accuser would mark the first time either has testified about the allegations. Their lawyers on Friday argued over who should be deposed first, with McCormick's lawyer, J. Scott Kilpatrick, saying that the woman's rape accusation lacked credibility and needed to be tested and probed before the case moves any further.

The woman accused McCormick in the first week of their freshman year of stalking and harassing her — which he has denied — then complained the following week that he had entered a dorm room and forcibly raped her. McCormick, who was at Brown on a full wrestling scholarship from Waukesha, Wis., was given a plane ticket home the next day.

But because Brown did not report the accusation to the campus police, and because McCormick withdrew before a disciplinary hearing, the allegation was never investigated.

"He had to bring this suit in order to clear his name and get fair compensation for everything he lost," Kilpatrick said.

Lawyers for the woman and for Brown said McCormick should be deposed first since he was the one who brought the lawsuit.

"William McCormick has never stated what happened," said Steven Richard, a lawyer for Brown. "He brought this lawsuit. He has to raise his right hand and testify under oath."

Also Friday, lawyers for Brown and the accuser demanded that McCormick's lawyer turn over all documents kept by a former assistant wrestling coach at Brown, Michael Burch, who advised McCormick during the university disciplinary process.

Kilpatrick argued that at least some of the records should be considered privileged since Burch was essentially acting as a legal adviser for McCormick for the disciplinary proceedings. Martin expressed skepticism that an attorney-client privilege could be invoked by someone who is not actually a lawyer. He said he would rule Monday on Burch's request to quash the subpoena.

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