Civil suit hits Collins for $75K

KU basketball player denies alleged assault, apologizes for shirking legal responsibilities

A Douglas County District Court judge has ruled in favor of a woman who filed a civil lawsuit against Kansas University basketball player Sherron M. Collins, 21, over an assault she said took place in an elevator.

Judge Jack Murphy signed a journal entry in the case this morning granting judgment for damages in excess of $75,000 to Jessica J. Brown.

Brown’s attorney asked the judge to rule in Brown’s favor because Collins had not filed a legal response to the lawsuit since it was filed May 14. Court records show Collins was served notice of the lawsuit the same day it was filed.

In her lawsuit, Brown, 35, accused Collins of exposing himself and rubbing against her despite being told repeatedly to stop. She said the incident occurred May 18, 2007, in an elevator at Jayhawker Towers where the woman said she worked.

Brown said in the lawsuit she was unable to continue working at the towers because of the incident. She claimed damages for humiliation, severe emotional pain and mental anguish. She claimed she incurred medical bills and suffered permanent medical, emotional and psychological damages.

A court hearing will be held July 8 to determine the exact amount of damages to be awarded, according to court records.

The lawsuit was filed because the statute of limitations for battery in a civil case is one year, according to Jim Wisler, a Lawrence attorney representing Brown.

Two letters, one of them certified, were sent to Collins about the matter before the lawsuit was filed. But Collins did not respond, Wisler said.

In her lawsuit, Brown had requested a jury trial. When Collins did not respond to the lawsuit in 20 days as required by law, Wisler filed a motion asking for a “judgment by default.”

At the July 8 hearing Wisler will request a specific amount for damages. He declined to comment on what that amount might be.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, KU head basketball coach Bill Self said KU officials were made aware of the allegation 13 months ago and described it as serious and not to be taken lightly.

“Sherron fully cooperated with the investigation and maintains that the allegation is false,” Self said. “Based on the information I have received, Sherron has my full support.”

Self expanded on his statement after his basketball camp Monday afternoon.

“I know Sherron’s father is very ill and Sherron went home to Chicago to see him,” Self said. “I was waiting on him to get back because this was news to him as well. I’m disappointed that he’s got to deal with this and we’ve got to deal with this and certainly I’m not passing judgment on anything but I wish this was handled differently because I know he’ll look forward to fighting any allegations.”

Self added that he didn’t know Collins had court date until today when it came to light that he missed it.

“Certainly that’s no excuse because ignorance is no excuse. You have to step up to the plate and accept your responsibilities,” Self said, while adding he trusted Collins was truthful when he said he was innocent.

In the statement, Collins said he is “100 percent innocent of any inappropriate behavior.”

Self said Collins didn’t fully understand the legal process concerning the civil lawsuit.

“While I just became aware of the court’s actions, I am very disappointed in the fact that Sherron didn’t follow through on his responsibilities regarding the civil lawsuit,” Self said. “I am confident he will work diligently to address this situation.”

Collins said he didn’t know what was expected of him and what his responsibilities were in the civil suit.

“I’m sorry and I intended no disrespect to the court,” Collins said. “I will do my best to correct this and to prove that this allegation is not true.”

No criminal charges have been filed.

However, the alleged victim did file a report on the incident with the Kansas University Department of Public Safety.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said Monday that his office was aware of the allegations the woman had made against Collins. He said his office had requested additional investigative work from KU police and had not yet received a completed report. He said he was not sure how long ago that request was made.

The statute of limitations for filing criminal charges is five years. The civil lawsuit will not have any effect on the district attorney’s office’s decision whether to prosecute, Branson said.

KU police spokesman Capt. Schuyler Bailey said late Monday afternoon that lab tests were being conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation concerning the complaint against Collins. The investigation had not been completed because the results of those tests have not been received, Bailey said.

No one was available to comment late Monday at the KBI headquarters in Topeka.