MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Former University of Memphis football player Ernest Suttles is suing his former school after a rape case against him was dismissed.
Suttles was a senior defensive lineman for the Tigers in October 2017 when he was charged with rape.
“I was then and I am now innocent of the crime that I was charged with almost two years ago," said Suttles in a news conference Wednesday.
In October of 2017, hours before he was set to take the field, Suttles was arrested and charged with rape.
According to the initial report, the victim told police they had been in a sexual relationship for several months before the alleged incident happened at his house.
Suttles was dismissed from the team after the coaching staff called his arrest “embarrassing to our football team.”
“I can only hope that through this case the University of Memphis will come to understand that everyone accused of a crime isn’t automatically guilty," said Suttles.
Suttles' attorneys say what the university did was unjust.
The 21-page lawsuit alleges breach of contract, no due process and violations of Title IX by the university.
“We believe that they failed to adequately investigate the allegations that were alleged against Ernest before they revoked his financial aid," said attorney Florence Johnson. “We believe that they improperly barred him from the campus."
The lawsuit claims the university trains its staff to “adopt a trauma-informed approach which discourages the thorough questioning of complainants in the sexual misconduct process to avoid further trauma.”
The suit claims the school never raised concerns about the credibility of the accuser and vital witnesses were ignored.
Suttles’ attorneys say the 2017 Scholar Athlete of the Month lost his reputation, job prospects and a potential career in the NFL.
“Where am I going to work? What am I going to do for a living? So he’s had to struggle through that and he’s done a great job. He’s an incredible young man," said attorney Curtis Johnson.
Suttles completed his master’s degree in Business Administration through online classes.
He and his attorneys say they hope this case will set an example for others.
“Maybe this case will shed light on what the process is and what should have been done to help the university do better in the future if this does come up," said attorney Florence Johnson.
Suttles also claims the university never interviewed a key witness.
He’s seeking to have his disciplinary record expunged, any record of suspension removed from his education file and have any record of the complaint permanently destroyed.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to the University of Memphis for comment a number of times Wednesday but did not hear back.