Updated: 6:55 p.m. | Posted: 2:15 p.m.
A lawyer for University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch said Wednesday that Lynch did not sexually assault two women in 2016, that the "contact" was consensual and that Lynch would appeal efforts to expel him from the university.
Questions over Lynch's conduct resurfaced last week when he was suspended by the school from athletic competition following an investigation that found Lynch violated the school's sexual misconduct policy and university rules in an April 2016 incident.
Then on Tuesday came news that the university's office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action had recommended Lynch be expelled from school after another sexual assault allegation involving the player came to light. The EOAA has a lower standard of proof than a criminal court.
Lynch's attorney Ryan Pacyga said Wednesday that the EOAA decisions in both cases are being appealed and that "Reggie Lynch categorically denies all of these allegations."
Pacyga wouldn't provide details but called it a "she said, he said" situation made more difficult because the allegations were made months after the incidents and key evidence is no longer available.
"He fully cooperated with the university investigation on his own, without a lawyer," Pacyga said of Lynch, a 6-foot-10 center from Edina.
He also noted that Lynch was cleared once by the University of Minnesota in a separate 2016 incident. In that case, Lynch was arrested on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct but ultimately not charged by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. The school investigation ended because of insufficient evidence for a case.
Pacyga said the university's burden of proof is lower in student disciplinary proceedings than it is in criminal cases, which makes the allegations harder to defend against. He said he's afraid for his client because the recent flood of high-profile sexual misconduct allegations across the country.
Pacyga said he agreed that society needed a "correction... but there might be a little bit of a hysteria going on" in the rush and desire to correct past wrongs.
"Put yourself in the shoes of the accused," he said. "How do you get a fair hearing right now?"
On Wednesday evening, Abby Honold, who was raped by a fellow U of M student in 2014 and who has championed legislation to change how campus assaults are handled, shared a message from the student who reported being assaulted by Lynch on April 28, 2016.
The accuser, who wished only to be identified as Alex, called Pacyga's discussion of her case a "violation of privacy." She also said she was "appalled and traumatized" by the way he talked about the case "with no respect for me as a victim, or any regard for how this would impact me."
Releasing the following statement on behalf of Alex, who reported a sexual assault dated April 28th 2016 by Reggie Lynch and who wishes to only be identified by her first name, in response to today's press conference from Ryan Pacyga. pic.twitter.com/EFlnzleCIJ— Abby Honold (@abbyhonold) January 11, 2018
As part of the EOAA appeals process, the accusers and Lynch will speak to a panel that can be composed of students, staff and administrators at the U. They'll make a recommendation on punishment.
If he or the accuser don't like that recommendation, they can take their case to school administrators and possibly civil court after that.
Pacyga, though, noted on Wednesday that Lynch is in his final year of eligibility, so may leave the U before this is all resolved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.