A former student and men’s basketball player at Coppin State University filed a lawsuit against the institution last week, claiming an assistant coach blackmailed, sexually assaulted and harassed him, and that other members of the university failed to appropriately address the situation.
Coppin State declined to comment.
The former student, Ibn Williams, is seeking unspecified monetary damages and other relief, including funds for medical care. Williams is represented by the New York- and New Jersey-based law firm Epstein Ostrove.
Lucien Brownlee, then a coach and director of player development, is identified in the suit as the person who assaulted and blackmailed Williams.
Brownlee’s first name is spelled “Lucien” in the lawsuit, though it’s spelled “Lucian” on Coppin State’s website.
Williams’ suit alleges he was tricked by the blackmailer into sending sexual photos to an online account of what looked like a romantic suitor. Williams was told that if he did not follow the blackmailer’s demands, they would distribute the photos.
At the end of the spring 2019 semester, the suit claims, Brownlee told Williams he also “exchanged sexual content with the plaintiff’s tormentor.” Following this interaction, the blackmailer ordered Williams to “engage in sexual encounters” with Brownlee. Come November, the blackmailer made a similar request, and Williams complied “with the insistence and urging” of Brownlee.
The Evening Sun
There were additional, similar demands made after the November encounter, though Williams refused, per the lawsuit. The blackmailer sent several messages indicating they knew Williams’ and Brownlee’s respective schedules.
Williams’ suit claims that in June 2020 he was convinced by the head coach, Juan Dixon, to remain at the school after Williams expressed concern about illegal drug use within the team. Dixon, a standout player at Calvert Hall College High School and the University of Maryland and a former NBA guard, took over Coppin’s program in 2017. Williams, according to the lawsuit, did not bring up the blackmail during this discussion.
Blackmail demands resumed during the fall 2020 semester, according to the lawsuit. Dixon told Williams that Brownlee was “mentally ill” and had a “troubled background.”
Dixon did not respond to a request for comment. Brownlee could not be reached for comment. He is no longer listed as a Coppin State basketball coach. Epstein said the firm is still attempting to serve the three defendants — Coppin State, Dixon and Brownlee.
Williams later requested that Coppin State investigate the blackmail, sexual assault and harassment. The suit claims the university then asked Williams to disclose information concerning his past sexual experiences and his sexual orientation. After bringing the claims to the university, according to the lawsuit, Williams’ financial assistance provided by Coppin State was withheld without explanation, meaning Williams’ tuition and housing were no longer fully covered.
The suit alleges that Coppin State did not comply with institutional or state reporting requirements and that it, along with Brownlee and Dixon, was negligent in providing Williams with a safe environment.
“We’re hoping to shine some light on what happened there and what we’re hoping didn’t happen to anybody else,” Epstein said.