A football star who was falsely accused of raping a fellow student at a top US university has spoken out about the ordeal that left him ‘broken’.
Ciaran McKenna, 20, left his home in Uddingston outside of Glasgow three years ago to study political science and business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina after receiving a £200,000 scholarship to play football for the school.
The 6’4 athlete, who gave up a professional contract with Celtic for the opportunity, had his world fall apart in February 2016 when he was accused of rape.
Mr McKenna was cleared of the accusation and paid a speculated six-figure settlement from Duke, but he said the experience had changed him and he is now abstaining from sex.
The footballer, who is set to graduate from Duke in December, says he plans to move back to Scotland with hopes to resurrect his career with Celtic FC.
Ciaran McKenna, 20, left home in Uddingston outside of Glasgow, three years years ago to play football for Duke University in Durham, North Carolina after receiving a £200,000 scholarship
The athlete was accused of raping a fellow student in February 2016 after an encounter the previous November. Mr McKenna was cleared of the accusation after a two and a half year ordeal and was paid a hefty settlement from Duke
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr McKenna said: ‘It’s been a rollercoaster, to put it mildly.
‘But I don’t regret coming to Duke, weirdly. I’ve still managed to have a great time and have had amazing experiences.’
He added: ‘I became popular very quickly, with the Scottish accent and the fact that I played for Celtic, the stories that I had.
‘I had players tell me I’m going to get so many girls with my accent and the football.
‘That almost made me feel as if I was under pressure and had to live up to some sort of expectation of the cool, great Scottish footballer who can get all the girls.
‘The whole college campus culture is very different from back home.
‘Here you have the sororities and fraternities, the richest and prettiest getting together. And the athletes.
‘It was just a social hierarchy that doesn’t exist at home. It was mesmerising. And also the casual hook-up scene that goes on.’
In February 2016, the student claimed Mr McKenna raped her, saying that although she did initiate oral sex, she told him she was a virgin and didn’t want to have intercourse
Mr McKenna was accused of rape by a fellow student after the pair went home together after meeting at a nightclub in November of 2015.
Once back in the room, Mr McKenna put on a condom and they engaged in penetrative and oral sex.
Afterwards, Mr McKenna gave the student a kiss on the forehead as he left the room and she thanked him.
A week after the encounter the student asked Mr McKenna for his number, which he declined to give her because he heard she was ‘clingy’ and he ‘didn’t want to get involved in that’.
In February 2016, the student made claims that Mr McKenna raped her, saying that although she did initiate oral sex, she told him she was a virgin and didn’t want to have penetrative sex.
She claimed that during intercourse, she told him no and moved herself away from his penis.
Mr McKenna said he was baffled by her claims, pointing out that she admitted she had thanked him and he kissed her afterwards.
He said to the Times: ‘She’s claiming that I went from a rapist to a pretty decent person in the space of 15 minutes? That just doesn’t make sense at all. And then the thank you at the end?’
Mr McKenna’s legal saga with Duke lasted for two and a half years.
After being suspended, Mr McKenna launched a civil suit against the school, which was recently settled out of court. Although the sum hasn’t been disclosed, Mr McKenna announced he will be donating a six-figure sum to the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic
The university’s disciplinary panel initially said the girl’s story wasn’t credible but after several hearings, Duke suspended Mr McKenna for two years.
After being suspended, Mr McKenna launched a civil suit against the school, which was recently settled out of court.
Although the sum hasn’t been disclosed, Mr McKenna announced he will be donating a six-figure sum to the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic.
He also revealed he has since changed his lifestyle change, saying: ‘In terms of socialising, I do still enjoy a night out with friends and that will never change but I certainly will contain a lot of what I drink.
‘I do not indulge in the one-night stand/hook-up culture, or sex at all, for that matter.
‘At the moment I have a girlfriend, and without going into too much detail, we both are honouring God in our relationship.
‘I was brought up a devout Catholic. When I came here I lost touch with God and Catholicism, but this has made me realise how much I need God and I have grown much closer with Him through this time. ‘
Moving forward, Mr McKenna will graduate from Duke in December and return to Scotland and has hopes of one day entering politics and becoming an MP.