Attorney speaks on $8M settlement in NMSU hazing case

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Board of Regents for New Mexico State have agreed to pay two former Aggie basketball players who claimed they were sexually assaulted by their teammates.

The hazing scandal was the latest that rocked the men’s basketball program that ended its season abruptly. 

An attorney representing a father and son in this case says real harm was done to two young men.

“I knew that a lawsuit would be painful for them,” said Joleen Youngers. 

Joleen Youngers represents Deuce Benjamin and his father. They, alongside, Shakiru Odunewu sued their former teammates for sexually assaulting them, and two of their coaches for doing nothing to stop it. Those cases were dropped.

However, the case against New Mexico State University settled for a combined $8 million.

“They had the courage to speak out,” said Youngers. “In many cases, persons such as Deuce are presented with a pseudonym, or as a John Doe. That frequently happens. But, by divulging who they were and standing up, they also acknowledged, ‘I don’t need to hide in the shadows.'”

Youngers calls the multi-million dollar settlement a partial justice. She noted how the attorney general still has a criminal investigation open.

But, are Younger’s clients interested in relitigating this in a criminal setting? 

“I haven’t discussed that with them in the immediate past,” said Youngers. “That chapter has yet to be written.”

It’s the end of civil lawsuits. Youngers says it’s the end of a message for victims everywhere. 

“The significance in this case is that it matters for victims to come forward and be heard, and it matters that we listen to them,” said Youngers. 

In the settlement agreement, New Mexico State University admits to no wrongdoing. 

NMSU released a statement saying: 

“New Mexico State University has reached a settlement agreement with William Benjamin, Deuce Benjamin and Shakiru Odunewu. We’re pleased this situation has now come to a resolution and all parties are able to move forward. Our university has more than 400 student-athletes who are making a positive difference each day in the classroom, on their teams and in our community.”