Former Duke Student Sues University, Says Professor Gave Him Bad Grade for Being on Lacrosse Team

A former Duke University lacrosse player sued the university Thursday, alleging that one of his professors unfairly gave him a failing grade because he was a member of the team.

Kyle Dowd graduated in May 2006, two months after a woman said she was raped by three of his teammates at a lacrosse party. The allegations set off a tumultuous few weeks in Durham, with almost daily protests by people who criticized lacrosse team members for a pattern of rowdy behavior.

Dowd, who was not charged in the case, claims in his lawsuit that visiting professor Kim Curtis engaged in "outrageous and unethical conduct" when she gave him an F in a politics and literature class. The lawsuit claims he had earned C's on his assignments until that point.

The university later changed Dowd's grade to a D, citing a calculation error. But Dowd claims the incident nearly kept him from graduating.

Dowd and his parents are asking for the grade to be changed to a "P" for passing, and want a total of $60,000 in damages. Dowd's lawyer, Joseph Zeszotarski of Raleigh, didn't immediately return calls for comment Thursday.

Curtis, reached at her home Thursday, referred questions about the case to the university. Duke spokesman John Burness said he hadn't seen a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed in Durham Superior Court.

Lacrosse players Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping in the case. Rape charges were dropped last month after the accuser wavered in her account of key details in the case.

Duke said Wednesday it had extended an invitation to Finnerty and Seligmann to return to class and the lacrosse team, but that they could still be punished if they are ultimately convicted. They have not said if they plan to return.