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Former NMSU basketball players allege teammates also harassed coaches

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- According to a new report from ESPN, two former New Mexico State University basketball players, Shakiru Odunewu and Deuce Benjamin, who claimed to be sexually assaulted by their teammates, told ESPN that the alleged perpetrators also targeted other players and some assistant coaches. They added that the attackers manipulated players into staying silent.

According to Benjamin, the alleged harassers also pulled down the pants of assistant coaches in public. The coaches allegedly targeted did not respond to ESPN's attempts to contact them. In April, Odunewu and Benjamin filed a lawsuit against NMSU, claiming the harassment escalated to sexual assault. They reported the abuse to then-head coach Greg Heiar and campus police, leading to the cancellation of the team's season and Heiar's dismissal. The police investigation is ongoing, and no charges have been filed yet.

Odunewu revealed that the alleged harassers mentioned in the lawsuit, Kim Aiken Jr., Doctor Bradley, and Deshawndre Washington, targeted nearly everyone on the team at least once. He said more frequent or severe punishments were reserved for those who resisted.

The accused players have not publicly commented on the lawsuit and could not be reached for a statement. Heiar and a spokesperson for NMSU also did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Benjamin disclosed that the act of pulling down a player's pants was sometimes treated as a pregame ritual. Initially, he assumed the alleged abuse was part of normal college basketball life and kept quiet, resorting to heavy marijuana use to cope with the stress.

Odunewu, who recognized the abuse from the beginning, remained silent for months, fearing it would damage his teammates' reputations. Both players have since entered the transfer portal and plan to petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility.

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