Former Wheaton College athlete charged with sexual assault


A former Wheaton lacrosse player is accused of sexually assaulting and choking a fellow student in 2021. His lawyer says the alleged encounter was consensual.

Mary Lyon Hall at Wheaton College Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe, File

A former Wheaton College men’s lacrosse player pleaded not guilty this week after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female lacrosse player on the Norton campus in 2021. 

Oliver La Du, 22, of Darien, Connecticut, is charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, as well as one count of strangulation or suffocation. 

“He’s the victim of a false allegation of rape,” said La Du’s lawyer, William J. Keefe. “He maintains his innocence. This encounter was consensual, 100%.” 

Keefe described his client as a “great kid,” adding that La Du — now a student at the University of Colorado Boulder — “looks forward to having his day in court to clear his name.”

La Du initially faced two counts of rape, but prosecutors later amended the charges. He was released on personal recognizance following his arraignment in Attleboro District Court Tuesday. 

According to a police report filed in court, the alleged assault occurred after La Du and the woman — identified only by her initials — attended an off-campus party on Sept. 10, 2021. 

Norton police received a sexual assault evidence collection kit the next day, but the alleged victim told officials she wasn’t ready to make a report at that point, according to court documents. The woman did, however, speak with Wheaton’s Title IX coordinator and submit a written statement, police noted. 

Then, in the summer of 2023, the woman filed an official report with Norton police. A freshman when the alleged assault occurred, she told police La Du — a sophomore at the time — approached her at the party and tried to strike up a conversation, but she wasn’t interested and replied with one-word answers. 

She said she left the party shortly after midnight on Sept. 11, 2021, and visited a teammate before deciding to return to the event, according to the police report. La Du allegedly approached her outside the party and said, “It’s over. I’ll walk you,” which she said she interpreted as an offer to walk her back to her dorm room. 

She told police she had “a bad feeling” and felt “nervous and uncomfortable” while walking. La Du allegedly steered her toward his own dorm, telling her he needed to “go grab something” and that she “should come up” to his room, according to court documents.

The woman “again felt uneasy about this but said that she was ‘intimidated’ because ‘he was a boy, he was older, and he was established at the school,’” the police report said.

Once inside, La Du allegedly locked the door and told her, “We’re going to have sex,” according to the report. The woman told police she said “no” and turned toward the door, but La Du allegedly blocked her exit, pushed her back, threw her onto a bed, and sexually assaulted her.

La Du also allegedly put his hand on the woman’s throat, causing her difficulty breathing. She told police he laughed when she asked him to stop and told him he was hurting her, according to court documents. 

The woman called a friend soon after the alleged assault, and the friend told police the woman was “sobbing” and “hyperventilating.” She went to a hospital the next day. 

The woman’s lawyer, Wendy Murphy, co-director of the Women’s and Children’s Advocacy Project at New England Law in Boston, said in a post on X that she was proud of her client for speaking up. 

“I hope she inspires other sexual assault victims to come forward,” Murphy wrote. “It’s never too late. For victims of sexual assault justice delayed is very common. And make no mistake, for them, justice delayed is justice.” 

La Du is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on June 7.

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