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Former NMSU basketball players receive almost $8,000,000 in lawsuit settlement

Update: ABC-7 is learning from newly obtained court documents that the Benjamin family is receiving $4,125,000 in the settlement. The NMSU Board of Regents was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit, although the Risk Management Division of New Mexico will pay for the settlement.

Shakiru Odunewu, the other former player and plaintiff in the lawsuit, will receive $3,875,000 from the settlement.

In total, the three plaintiffs are getting almost $8,000,000.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- The civil lawsuit filed by former NMSU players Shakiru Odunewu, William 'Deuce' Benjamin, and his father William Benjamin has been settled.

The settlement is just between NMSU and the plaintiffs. All of the individual defendants have been dismissed with prejudice from the lawsuit. Which means that a lawsuit for the same reasons can not be filed against and of the defendants again.

Those five individuals are former head coach Greg Heiar who was fired for cause on February 14th, assistant coach Dominique Taylor and three former players, Deshawndre Washington, Doctor Bradley, and Kim Aiken Jr.

The Benjamins' attorney, Joleen Youngers, told ABC-7 that NMSU stepped up and took responsibility and offered what she says is a fair and reasonable resolution. Youngers made it clear that the settlement happened with no adjudication and so even though there is a settlement she doesn't think that exonerates anybody who the lawsuit was initially filed against.

"The reality is the only justice we have in this country beyond the criminal justice system is money justice so it's an imperfect fit," Youngers said. "You know if the slate could be wiped clean and they could rewind and none of this ever happened i'm sure that would have been their first choice." 

The details of the settlement are not yet available but an NMSU spokesperson said the details will be released by the Risk Management Division of New Mexico.

The lawsuit filed back on April 19th claimed Odunewu and Benjamin were sexually assaulted, harassed and abused for more than six months by Washington, Bradley and Aiken.

It also claimed that the players reported the hazing to both Heiar and Taylor on multiple occasions and they did nothing to stop what was going on. The lawsuit said Taylor told Odunewu "what do you want me to do?" when he pleaded him to intervene.

In a press release from Heiar's attorneys on Tuesday, they say Heiar was not required to respond to the lawsuit and the allegations against Coach Heiar were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff's lawyers before any discovery in the lawsuit took place.

The release went onto say that "there was no investigation by any agency or group which provided Coach Heiar with the ability to respond to any allegations - all of which he denies. Coach Heiar is pleased to have this chapter behind him, and looks forward returning to coaching."

NMSU gave the following statement to ABC-7.

"New Mexico State University has reached a settlement agreement with William Benjamin, Deuce Benjamin and Shakiru Odunewu. We’re pleased this situation has now come to a resolution and all parties are able to move forward. Our university has more than 400 student-athletes who are making a positive difference each day in the classroom, on their teams and in our community."

Justin Bannister

This resolves the civil lawsuit but the New Mexico Attorney General's Office did confirm to ABC-7 Tuesday that they are still investigating whether there are any criminal charges to press.

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