A lawyer for KU basketball star Josh Jackson offered restitution — where “money is no object, within reason” — to the family of women’s player McKenzie Calvert if they agreed not to seek charges against Jackson, according to Calvert’s father.
Tim Calvert said the offer came on Feb. 4, nearly two months after his daughter’s car was vandalized and two days after The Kansas City Star reported that Jackson and another University of Kansas men’s player were people of interest in the case.
“They wanted to pay to make it all go away,” Calvert said. “But it wouldn’t have gone away for my daughter. It would have been great for Josh, but not for McKenzie. ... This was never about money for me, it was about how my daughter was treated.”
Calvert said Lawrence attorney Hatem Chahine later put several stipulations on the restitution: that the family not pursue an investigation with the university; that they agree damages Jackson made to the car were of a misdemeanor amount; and, ultimately, that they agree they do not want the vandalism prosecuted.
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During the Feb. 4 call, Calvert said he told the lawyer that the car was already fixed and insurance had taken care of all but his $250 deductible. There was nothing else to pay for, he told Chahine.
“There must have been other expenses,” Calvert said the attorney responded.
Calvert said he refused to accept any of the stipulations — two of them spelled out in a draft of an affidavit given to Calvert on Feb. 6 and obtained by The Star — or sign anything.
Jackson, 20, was charged Feb. 24 with misdemeanor property damage. He’s scheduled to be arraigned in Douglas County District Court on April 12.
The Star sent Chahine a list of questions, including whether he attempted to offer restitution to make the case go away. He did not respond to those questions. Chahine said he had been hired as local counsel for Jackson and forwarded a statement that attorney Scott Boatman released last week.
“Josh has already made a statement regarding this incident, which occurred almost three months ago in December,” said Boatman, a Denver attorney who has represented professional athletes. “The incident actually started in the club and did not initially involve Josh at all. Josh attempted to intervene to help and protect a teammate and unfortunately the matter escalated. Josh has apologized for his actions and has also offered to pay for any damages that he directly caused. He looks forward to moving past this so that he is able to focus on school and basketball.”
The reported vandalism happened outside the Yacht Club bar and restaurant in Lawrence just before 2 a.m. on Dec. 9. McKenzie Calvert and friends were leaving the club when she threw a drink inside the bar at Lagerald Vick, whom she had dated the year before. The Star earlier reported that a KU investigation in late 2015 and early 2016 had found that Vick likely struck Calvert multiple times. Vick has not been charged with a crime.
After Calvert threw the drink, Jackson allegedly followed her out and began kicking her car when she was in the driver’s seat. Calvert’s family released a statement last week to the newspaper describing the incident. Once other basketball players stopped Jackson, the family said, the men’s players left the scene and Calvert called 911.
Within hours of that call, Calvert has said that her coach, Brandon Schneider, suspended her and banned her from Allen Fieldhouse Dec. 9 and 10 for her actions inside the Yacht Club. The suspension initially was to include the Dec. 11 game against Rhode Island but was rescinded after Tim Calvert complained that Jackson wouldn’t be missing his game.
The university, including Schneider, has not answered questions regarding Calvert and her suspension. An official with the athletic department also did not respond to questions about the restitution offer.
After Jackson was charged with the misdemeanor, men’s coach Bill Self said Jackson had been disciplined “in-house” immediately after the incident. What that means, and what it included, wasn’t disclosed.
Jackson started all of KU’s regular season games but was suspended for Thursday’s Big 12 tournament opener following an unrelated traffic violation.
Jackson issued a statement after he was charged saying he was sorry and that he had “offered to pay for any damage that I directly caused.”
Tim Calvert takes issue with that.
“He’s making it seem like he offered an immediate deep apology and wanted to pay for things and take care of things, and they did not,” Calvert said. “No one contacted us before Feb. 4. ... They didn’t say, ‘How can we pay the auto shop for your car repair?’ It wasn’t that innocent.”
When Chahine called on Feb. 4, Calvert said, the attorney told him that Jackson’s mother didn’t know about the incident until recently and, if she had known, she would have immediately reached out to him had she been told about it. Efforts to reach Jackson’s mother, Apples Jones, have been unsuccessful and Chahine did not address a request from The Star to get in touch with her.
“He told me, ‘She would have wanted to pay for the damages,’ ” Calvert said.
On Feb. 6, Calvert said, his attorney called and said that Jackson’s attorney wanted to discuss whether the family would work with him to lower the damage to a misdemeanor charge rather than a felony. Damage over $1,000 is classified as a felony. The total damage to Calvert’s car was listed as $2,991 on the police report, but witnesses at the scene told police they could not identify others who also may have damaged the car.
“Our family never pushed for a felony charge,” Calvert said. “When I sat in the district attorney’s office, I told him, ‘I would not want a young man to have a felony for car vandalism.’ We never wanted that. We wanted accountability.”
Calvert said they wanted an investigation into how KU treated McKenzie in the wake of the vandalism report. At the end of January, Tim Calvert said, no coach from either team had reported the Yacht Club incident to KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access, which handles Title IX complaints.
Calvert said he and his attorney then sent a letter to that office asking for an investigation of the Dec. 9 incident and how his daughter has been treated since.
Chahine initially told Calvert’s attorney that if he accepted restitution he would have to stop any action with the university, Calvert said. He and his wife were “shocked.”
“We were thinking, if that’s our son, and we were worried about him getting a felony, the last thing we’d be worried about is if (someone is concerned about) KU,” Calvert said. “I told my attorney, ‘No way.’ ”
Calvert’s attorney then received the proposed affidavit from Jackson’s attorney detailing the stipulations. There was nothing in writing about not seeking a KU investigation but, Calvert said, it did include him agreeing to other things he wasn’t comfortable with.
No. 4: “The amount of damage to the rear of the vehicle allegedly caused by Mr. Joshua Jackson is $_____. (less than $1000)”
Witnesses, including McKenzie, had already told police that Jackson kicked the door, Calvert said. Plus, it was nearly two months after the insurance company had already paid for all the repairs.
Ultimately, the Calverts declined the offer.
“We were not going to lie and say something happened that didn’t,” Calvert said. “We knew there were 10 or 12 people who gave statements saying that he kicked the door, so how are we now going to say he just kicked the taillight?”
Stipulation No. 7 would have required Calvert to agree that he didn’t “wish to have this matter prosecuted.” That is the first time anyone had even mentioned not seeking charges, he said. And the family wasn’t prepared to do that.
“If he never was charged, people would think, ‘He’s just a dude that walked by a car and kicked it,’ ” Calvert said. “It wasn’t that small, not to our family. It wasn’t that minor.”
The Star’s Mará Rose Williams contributed to this report.