On college campuses, men are guilty until proven innocent — even when the accusations are being refuted by the supposed victim over and over again. This story of a top tennis player at the University of Southern California (USC) and her star football player boyfriend is unfortunately a perfect example of such injustice.
It all started when former USC football kicker Matt Boermeester was accused of abusing his girlfriend, 22-year-old nationally-ranked USC tennis player Zoe Katz — not by Katz, but by a third party. Apparently a neighbor saw the couple roughhousing with one another and interpreted it as "abuse." This person told their roommate; the roommate told a USC coach; and the coach reported the account to the school's Title IX office.
After the allegations surfaced, Katz came out to vehemently deny that she had ever been "abused" by Boermeester. In return, the office “misled, harassed, threatened and discriminated against” her, she claims. Katz was told she was a victim and merely protecting her abuser; she was not believed, but instead treated as a child. Her boyfriend was viewed as guilty and suspended from the school.
On Sunday, Katz released a statement condemning Title IX for their "horrible and unjust" treatment of Boermeester and herself during their so-called "investigation."
"Terrible and untrue things have been said about Matt by people who don’t even know him, including apparently the third party who contacted Title IX, and these bizarre assertions have been treated as fact in this investigation," reads Katz's statement, according to The College Fix. “Words, including mine, have been incompetently or intentionally misrepresented, misquoted and taken out of context, which should not be that surprising since no statements were recorded or verified.”
Boermeester, too, has denied all accusations of abuse.
"I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt,” the woman's statement continues. "He is an incredible person, and I am and have been 100% behind him. Nothing happened that warranted an investigation, much less the unfair, biased and drawn out process that we have been forced to endure quietly."
Katz claims she was "demeaned and absurdly profiled" by Title IX officials, being told she was only denying any wrongdoing because she "must be afraid of Matt."
"When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled. I understand that domestic violence is a terrible problem, but in no way does that apply to Matt and me."
"I am afraid of USC’s Title IX office,” added Katz. “I hope that my comments will not cause USC’s Title IX office to further retaliate against me in any way.”
Katz's testimony didn't mattered. Boermeester was suspended, banned from campus, and denied access to athletic trainers and his teammates on the football team. Moreover, the football player was barred from contacting Katz.
"I was told that if I contacted Matt, 'things would not go well for him,'" the tennis star continued. "I was also told that I could be charged and investigated if I spoke to anyone who they decided to call in as possible ‘witnesses.'"
Katz was allegedly targeted by Title IX officials after she issued a tweet in February calling the report against her boyfriend "false."
Katz’s attorney, Kerry L. Steigerwalt, said his client was directed to never again tweet about the investigation.
"You’re talking about a sophisticated woman who’s captain of the best tennis team in the country … and they are treating her like some little know-nothing,” said Steigerwalt.
Katz went on to blast the office for placing "agendas" before facts and vowed to continue to speak out against the injustice.
"The USC I know and really love upholds values like family, trust and excellence. Facts and fairness are supposed to govern Title IX and not agendas, intimidation and falsehoods," she said. "I am so sad that a rogue group like the Title IX office can bring down this amazing school. On behalf of all Trojans, I have to speak up. But more importantly, I am speaking up for myself and for Matt. I will not permit anyone to portray me as a victim, I am not. Nor will I stand by silently and watch a good person like Matt be railroaded by a rigged system."
The student's statement concluded: "Matt Boermeester did nothing improper against me, ever. I would not stand for it. Nor will I stand for watching him be maligned and lied about, and I implore the USC community to stand together to stop this from happening to Matt or anyone else."
Katz will reportedly graduate in the fall, although she is not listed on the school's tennis roster.
According to a USC spokesman, “the university has concluded its investigation." Boermeester is no longer enrolled at the college.
"USC stands by its investigation and the accounts provided by multiple witnesses. As previously stated, student disciplinary records are confidential. If the students involved waive their confidentiality rights, the university will offer a detailed response," says an additional statement from the school.