The California Court of Appeal reversed the trial decision of Judge Amy D. Hogue against former USC kicker Matthew Boermeester Thursday — an intimate partner violence charge that led to his expulsion from the university in 2017.
Boermeester, most known for his game-winning field goal in USC’s 2017 Rose Bowl game against Penn State, appealed that the process leading to his expulsion violated his right to a fair hearing. The appellate court found that USC did not provide a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine critical witnesses at an in-person hearing. According to the court report, USC interviewed 18 witnesses in the investigation.
“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has again recognized that accused students under Title IX must have a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine critical witnesses at an in-person hearing,” said Mark Hathaway, Boermeester’s attorney.
Boermeester’s legal battle regarding his expulsion has lasted more than three years. He unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit in March 2018 attempting to overturn his expulsion and was denied re-enrollment at USC by the Los Angeles Superior Court. A year later, the former kicker filed a suit against the university and USC’s former Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry.
This reversal comes after U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos released new regulations regarding Title IX protections on May 6. According to the updated provisions, all parties involved in such a case have the “right to written notice of allegations, the right to an advisor, and the right to submit, cross-examine, and challenge evidence at a live hearing.”
“It is gratifying that the new Federal Title IX regulations announced on May 6th will require the same fairness that Matt Boermeester has fought for so hard over the past three years, and finally won in the Court of Appeal today,” Hathaway said.
Boermeester also claims that he was denied notice of the allegations brought against him, interim measures were improperly imposed and that USC displayed a lack of evidence.
“The security video shows Matt and Zoe [Katz] clowning around in the alley and celebrating, but the USC Title IX office misrepresented the video and relied on a statement from a witness who changed his testimony by voice mail,” Hathaway said.
According to the court report, Boermeester called his then-girlfriend, Zoe Katz, around 12:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2017 to pick him up from a party. The two got food together, returned to Katz’s duplex and went to the neighboring alley with Katz’s dog, Ziggy. Boermeester reportedly ordered her to drop the dog’s leash, and when she refused, he grabbed her neck and hair and hit her head against the wall until a neighbor intervened.
Students living in the surrounding apartments heard the loud yelling and invited Katz into their apartment. Two USC students who witnessed the incident reported it to the men’s tennis coach, who then forwarded the complaint to the university’s Title IX office.
Katz asked for an Avoidance of Contact (AOC) order against Boermeester and requested emergency housing since he had a key to her duplex. Her requests were granted, and USC’s Title IX office proceeded with the investigation. Boermeester was expelled a few weeks later on Feb. 14.
According to the report, she and her advisor met with Title IX on Jan. 30 to express Katz’s concerns about the case. She asked that the AOC be lifted, and wanted to retract her statement so that Boermeester wouldn’t get “mad” at her.
On Aug. 16, 2017, Katz denied the alleged misconduct and asked that the court halt the proceedings against Boermeester, including the expulsion penalty. She believed the investigation was too harsh and that Boermeester should be mandated to go to counseling and be placed on probation, the report states.
“I made it very clear to USC that I have never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matthew Boermeester; not on January 21, 2017 and not ever,” Katz said in her declaration. “Nothing happened that warranted an investigation, much less the unfair, biased and drawn out process that we were forced to endure without speaking publicly.”
In a statement to Annenberg Media USC cited, “[It is] reviewing the decision from the Court of Appeal in detail.”
The University issued a statement in March citing it believed the process to be fair and just.
“USC’s process was fair. The special process for sexual misconduct cases does not apply in this case because this involves violence toward a girlfriend, not sexual misconduct,” the March statement read.
Should USC choose to proceed with a new hearing, the case will now be returned to the superior court. This would afford Boermeester the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses if he so chooses.
Amanda Sturges contributed to this report.