Former USC kicker Matt Boermeester filed suit in Los Angeles federal court seeking to overturn his 2017 expulsion from the school over an alleged physical altercation between him and his girlfriend, according to court papers obtained Friday.
Boermeester, who kicked the winning field goal in the Rose Bowl in January 2017, was removed from the football team the same month after the alleged fight with Zoe Katz outside her home. The kicker was expelled in July 2017 after an investigation by USC’s Title IX Office, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles federal court.
USC issued a statement saying it “stands by its investigation and the evidence in the Matthew Boermeester case.”
“In a similar lawsuit Boermeester filed in state court, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in March 2018 ruled in USC’s favor, upholding his expulsion,” according to the university. “The court found that substantial evidence, including video of the incident and statements from witnesses, supported our decision.”
The lawsuit alleges an “egregious miscarriage of justice” and gender bias, contending that USC selectively enforced Title IX protections against him due to the fact he was a male athlete and, as a result, his girlfriend could only have been a victim.
According to the lawsuit, the interaction in the parking lot of a McDonald’s near Katz’s home was the result of horseplay misinterpreted by a “third-party non-witness” as assault. Katz and Boermeester remain a couple, the suit says.
“Mr. Boermeester and Ms. Katz joked around about Mr. Boermeester’s role in USC’s Rose Bowl win, threw French fries at each other, and laughed together,” the suit states. “During this interaction, Mr. Boermeester playfully put one hand on Ms. Katz’s neck, in an intimate manner. They then entered Ms. Katz’s building together.”
Boermeester is seeking unspecified punitive damages and injunctive relief as an alleged result of severe emotional distress, loss of reputation and career opportunities, and economic injuries caused by his expulsion, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit also names Gretchen Dahlinger Means, the school’s Title IX coordinator, and vice president for students Dr. Ainsley Carry as defendants.
Katz — who was the captain of the women’s tennis team at the time of the incident — came forward in early 2017 when she issued a statement — repeated in the new lawsuit — that, “I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt.”
In 2017, Boermeester, who was two classes shy of graduation when expelled, sued in Superior Court for his expulsion to be overturned, but was unsuccessful.
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