UA football player remains in program after sexual assault settlement


Megan Ewing

Arizona football trains in Tucson, Ariz. on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The team is preparing to play in the annual spring game on Saturday, April 24.

Sam Parker

University of Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura will continue his tenure with the Wildcats after settling a civil lawsuit regarding a sexual assault case.

De Laura, 21, and a former teammate from St. Louis School in Honolulu, were accused of raping a woman who was 17 years old at the time in 2018 while the parties involved were in high school. The case was initially dealt with in a juvenile court, in which de Laura plead guilty to second-degree sexual assault. The civil complaint was filed Dec. 2, 2021.

UA officials said they became aware of the civil lawsuit in fall 2022, according to a statement made by Arizona Athletics. With the information available to them, the athletic department determined de Laura would remain on the team.

The statement from Arizona Athletics, with regards to the civil lawsuit de Laura was facing, read, “In the fall of 2022 after a civil complaint was filed against football student-athlete Jayden de Laura, the University of Arizona first became aware of a 2018 incident involving de Laura which occurred while he was in high school in Hawaii. After reviewing the matter, the determination was made to allow de Laura to continue as a student-athlete and his status remains unchanged.”

Several members of the UA community are concerned that the retention of de Laura sends a dangerous message and condones actions like those the athlete was accused of. Gigi Ruiz, a former UA student who constructed her thesis around the university’s treatment of sexual assault on campus, explained how this decision could seem like the university is “promoting” these behaviors.

“This person is an athlete that is promoted actively by the university, so effectively, if survivors see something like this, they could interpret it as the university is promoting a perpetrator; which then would be very disheartening for survivors that are going through a reporting process,” Ruiz said. “It’s also difficult because there have been a multitude of studies that have found that D1 athletics are a huge factor in increasing sexual violence, because it promotes party culture; it promotes hyper masculinity and rivalry; it just increases the probability of sexual violence. So then on top of that, to have someone who has these allegations, definitely just amplifies that even more.”

The world of collegiate athletics, as Ruiz mentioned, is no stranger to controversies surrounding the handling of sexual assault allegations. In one instance, in April 2020, seven women sued the NCAA for its failure to protect them from sexual assault allegations leveled against male college athletes.

According to Ruiz, sports culture and campus culture both have a history of promoting a culture that allows sexual assault to go unpunished. The process of reporting and investigating an assault within the university system is drawn-out and confusing for students, according to Ruiz, and students often are not aware of the resources at their disposal during these processes.

Additionally, Ruiz said that educational resources and awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses are limited, another element that the university could take steps to improve.

“I would say the biggest takeaway is to educate yourself until the university takes proper steps to educate students. Learn what consent is, learn why sexual violence occurs and actively speak up when you see lesser behaviors that support those more severe behaviors,” Ruiz said. “And know that even though you don’t hear about a lot of reporting, or you don’t hear about a lot of stuff related to sexual violence, there are so many people on campus that have experienced it that don’t report it or that don’t talk about it. You’re not alone.”

With that being said, there exists many resources on the UA campus for survivors of sexual assault and other types of interpersonal violence. One of said resources is Survivor Advocacy, which provides “free and confidential support for survivors of any type of interpersonal violence,” according to Makele White, a leader of the group. The support Survivor Advocacy provides ranges from emotional support to accompanying survivors if they choose to report an incident to other organizations or officials.

While Survivor Advocacy is working on expanding its outreach to students, increased funding from the university or private donors would be instrumental in helping the group expand their operations to help more students at the UA and to hire more people from diverse backgrounds, according to Ruiz.

What the leaders of Survivor Advocacy want students to know is that there are support systems in place for them and people that are able and willing to help.

“We believe survivors, and we’re here to support them,” White said. “We understand that there’s systemic issues or systemic barriers to accessing accountability and justice as a survivor and we want [survivors] to know that we believe them and will support them in any way we can in that system.”

More information on Survivor Advocacy can be found at

The Arizona Daily Star reported May 12 that de Laura’s attorneys denied the football player ever pleaded guilty, though court records confirmed the confirmed the two accused men pleaded guilty and settled the case.

De Laura and his former teammate did not face any jail time. According to the article and the lawsuit, “they were ordered to write apology letters to the plaintiff.”

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