What a Delayed Suspension Meant for Kemari Averett, U of L Cardinals, & His Accusers
Louisville Sophomore tight end Kemari Averett was suspended indefinitely on October 16, after his arrest the previous day for allegedly threatening his pregnant girlfriend at gunpoint on October 14. Since news of the suspension, Averett has also been accused of raping a second woman in August.
The young woman accusing 20-year-old Averett of rape visited an on-campus assault center the same August day the rape is alleged to have occurred, but it was not reported to campus police until October 9. Averett played at Boston College on October 13 — 4 days after the police investigation began and 5 days after a no-contact order had been issued against him in this matter.
Although refusing to confirm when university and athletic staff learned of the rape accusation, citing federal privacy laws, University of Louisville Director of Media Relations, John Karman, stated that when a report is made to a university assault center, it is university policy not to immediately pass the information on to others in the university until the accuser decides whether to press charges. The option not to report is one of a few options available to a complainant, per the university’s Sexual Misconduct Resource Guide. One of Averett’s attorneys, Aubrey Williams, claims that the university knew of the accusation back in August — a claim Karman refutes.
Averett was charged in Jefferson County, Kentucky with 1st degree wanton endangerment, a felony, and domestic violence (4th degree assault) relating to the threats made at gunpoint. Since the original charges, the wanton endangerment charge has been amended to a 2nd degree misdemeanor and Averett has been released on a personal recognizance bond on October 25. If he is convicted of the 2nd degree misdemeanor, Averett could face between 90 and 365 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Averett is under police investigation for the rape accusation, but has yet to be formally charged.
Averett has also been kicked out of his university-affiliated, off-campus apartment and is not allowed on school grounds. As of October 25, he is still enrolled at the university and is taking classes online.
Averett has had some run-ins with the law before. At age 17, he was charged with armed robbery for stealing a cell phone at gunpoint. He was charged in adult court and faced up to 10 years in prison, but spent just three months in a youth detention center. He was released on bond but violated the terms of that bond and spent 9 days in county jail. His juvenile record also included two robbery charges and a criminal trespass charge. Having previously been labeled a troublemaker, the Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino took a chance on Averett after he seemed to have taken steps to correct his path in life. He has been attending U of L on an athletic scholarship.
It seems Averett can’t escape his criminal tendencies and now, coach Petrino is having to answer for Averett’s latest run-ins with the law. Petrino tells Louisville press that he has been told not to comment on Averett’s rape allegation, but claims he had no knowledge of the allegation until it was reported by the Louisville Courier Journal on October 25.
Interestingly, U of L police had begun investigating the rape allegation back on October 9 and a no-contact order for his accuser had been issued on October 8. So, it appears the accuser had indeed decided to move forward with pressing charges, which would seemingly initiate the process of alerting other university officials, including those in the athletic department. But according to Petrino, that apparently didn’t happen, as Averett traveled with the team to play against the Boston College Eagles – where he had 1 reception for 4 yards.
It’s not entirely clear whether this chain of communication violated any university policy per se, but one has to ask whether Averett should have been permitted to remain on the team, travel to and play in Chestnut Hill, and remain in university-affiliated housing. One also has to wonder if, had other precautions been taken, he would have threatened his pregnant girlfriend at gunpoint at that same university-affiliated housing.
U of L is required by federal law under Title IX to “take steps to ensure equal access to its education programs and activities and protect the complainant as necessary, including interim measures before the final outcome of an investigation.” The university’s sexual misconduct policy goes on to state that “the institution will take these steps promptly once it has notice of a sexual misconduct allegation.” Besides making accommodations for the complainant, the “interim measures” do not appear to place any restrictions on the accused or any requirements on the university to protect other students from the accused.
Averett’s alleged misdeeds likely do not fall under the direct purview of the NCAA, although the NCAA has taken steps as of late to improve its image when it comes to the issue. The NCAA does not have a bylaw directly prohibiting sexual misconduct, but rather focuses on “ethical conduct” and defers to the individual university for specific policies on the issue. The NCAA prefers to make recommendations to participating universities for preventing and reporting sexual misconduct and violence. An example of this is the organization’s recent publication “Sexual Violence Prevention: An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture.”
The Cardinals’ Student-Athlete Handbook and Code of Conduct reiterate the University of Louisiana’s Code of Conduct, which “prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and misconduct, includ[ing], but  not limited to the following: sexual harassment; sexually abusive contact; domestic violence; dating violence; sexual exploitation; stalking; or retaliation; or child pornography.”
Although Averett has been deemed a “Persona Non Grata,” or “a person who is not welcome at the University of Louisville,” he is still technically enrolled as a student and has not been permanently removed from the team. A jury trial on his gun-related offense is scheduled for February 27, 2019.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Courier Journal.