Former UNH goalie Casey DeSmith comments on media coverage of his arrest and suspension from UNH

Last modified: 12/13/2014 1:10:09 AM
Text of a press release provided by the parents of Casey DeSmith.

ROCHESTER – Casey DeSmith, who had been the starting goaltender for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats Division I men’s ice hockey team from the spring of his freshman year in 2012 until the beginning of the 2014 season, will not be returning to the team. DeSmith was informed that he would not be allowed to rejoin the team by its head coach, Dick Umile, and the school’s athletic director, Marty Scarano, in a meeting that took place on Monday, December 1 at the school.

DeSmith, who had been arrested following an incident on August 31, expected to return to the team to finish his career as a Wildcat. In November, after the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing that was held at the school, DeSmith’s suspension from the University was ended, effective December 20.

During the hearing, DeSmith presented two detailed statements that included evidence which called into question allegations that had been made against him, including an allegation that he had caused physical harm to another student, his former girlfriend. That evidence showed that a) she showed no sign whatsoever of having been struck and was completely uninjured, b) she gave wildly different accounts of what had happened that night to police, c) neither of her descriptions of what happened agreed with first-hand accounts provided to police by eyewitnesses, and d) a teammate, Wildcats captain Matt Willows, stated that she later told him that DeSmith had not, in fact, struck her.

After the hearing board examined the evidence, it found that DeSmith was not responsible for causing physical harm, and determined that he should be allowed to register as a student in good standing again as of December 20.

In his December 4 appearance in district court, DeSmith pleaded not guilty to every charge against him with the exception of a disorderly conduct violation, a charge that falls below the level of a misdemeanor. He also signed a diversion agreement, which will lead to all charges against him being formally dismissed in 12 months after he has complied with the terms of the agreement, which include community service that he expects to have completed by Friday, December 11th.

This brings to an end a storied college career for DeSmith at UNH. In the spring of 2012, he stepped in for the perennial Hockey East contender and went on to post a career 2.32 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He led the team to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2013 and the Hockey East finals in 2014. DeSmith was presented with the team’s Roger A. LeClerc Award as team MVP at the end of the 2012-13 season. He also set a program record with a shutout streak of 203:32, which spanned three-plus games from November 4-18, 2012.

“I always dreamed of playing for the Wildcats,” said DeSmith. “And I will always be grateful for the opportunity that I had to play for the team, and for the support I received from the fans. But I am very upset with the way my UNH career was ended, and with the way I was represented in the press. The damage to my education and to my hockey career that has resulted from the accusation made against me and the manner in which it was reported is immeasurable.”

DeSmith said be believed that both police and the media had chosen to regard him as guilty until proven innocent, adding that in his opinion, neither made any legitimate effort to ascertain the truthfulness of the accuser’s allegations.

“Once the accusation was made against me, the school had no choice but to fully investigate it,” DeSmith said. He went on to say that it was only through the hiring of an attorney and private investigator that he has been able to begin the process of clearing his name. And even now, he said, the reporting of falsehoods continues – as evidenced by a December 6th article in a local newspaper in which a reporter misrepresented the details of DeSmith’s hearing in Dover District Court so badly that his family is considering legal action against the publication.

Unfortunately, the collegiate sports world has been down this road before, most notably in the case of several Duke University lacrosse players who were falsely accused and convicted both in the media and by the school before any real facts were known. And as Rolling Stone magazine’s botched coverage of a reported incident at The University of Virginia appears to have confirmed, neither the media nor every accuser can be counted on to always tell the truth, much less the whole truth.

DeSmith admitted from the beginning that he had overindulged in alcohol on the night in question, and issued apologies within hours of the incident to police, the school and his coaches and teammates. From that point on, he has, in a real sense, become the chief victim in everything that has transpired.

“It would have been my preference just to put this whole episode behind me and move on,” DeSmith said. “But the ongoing misrepresentations of the facts in the media have convinced me that I need to stand up for myself and attempt to set the record straight.”

DeSmith has not decided whether he plans to return to UNH to finish his academic studies, or whether he will leave the school and pursue academic or athletic opportunities elsewhere. He expects to make that decision some time in the coming weeks. In the meantime, he said that he has learned a lot from his experience.

“I have learned many valuable lessons from this ordeal that will help me the rest of my life, including the very real dangers of alcohol. But I also believe that the media has a responsibility to seek and print the truth, and to better protect the rights of someone who stands accused in situations like this.”

Despite all he’s been through, DeSmith remains upbeat about his future. “I am determined not to be bitter about this,” he said, “and am very much looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I know that I am a good person, a person of good character, both ethically and morally. And I am hopeful that the next school or hockey team that I am fortunate enough to be a part of will see that the Casey DeSmith they’ve been reading about in the press bears no resemblance whatsoever to the real me.”

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