A Daily Mail article Sunday claimed that men's soccer player Ciaran McKenna, who recently settled a lawsuit against Duke, was falsely accused of rape and donated a six-figure sum to the Wrongful Convictions Clinic.

Earlier in August, McKenna settled a lawsuit against the University, regarding its handling of a sexual assault claim against him. The lawsuit, which began in January 2017, centered around the student conduct process, which found McKenna responsible for not receiving appropriate consent through two panels—the second panel came to the result after it was determined the first panel had "procedural errors." 

A judge previously issued a permanent injunction against Duke to prevent the school from suspending McKenna. When the case was recently settled, one of McKenna's lawyers told The News & Observer that the soccer player is now a student in good standing with no disciplinary record, and he plans to graduate this December.

"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,'" the article stated. 

The article—entitled "'I've given up sex and found God again': Scottish soccer star on $260,000 Duke scholarship receives out of court payout from the university after it suspended him for two years over one-night stand's false rape claims"—also refers to the sexual assault allegations as "false" in the bulleted subheads below the headline and in the first line of the article.  

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, declined to comment whether McKenna was cleared of the sexual assault accusation in the recent case settlement due to "federal privacy law."  

The lawsuit and accusation stem from a 2015 sexual encounter that occurred after McKenna, then a first-year, met a girl at Shooter's II Saloon.

Junior Lizzie Butcher saw the article and called it "extremely inappropriate," particularly the version that appeared on Snapchat.

A Snapchat Discover version of the story

"While I do not personally know the specifics of the McKenna case, I think that the way the case, and rape in general, was treated in the article is grounds enough for severe criticism," she wrote. 

Butcher and her friends reached out to Daily Mail to change the article and they were met with what Butcher called a "negative, stiff and demeaning response." Daily Mail's compliance team responded in an email saying the organization would not amend or remove the article. 

"We appreciate that articles covering the very sensitive subject of rape and rape claims will spark debate and provoke strong responses but they are firmly in the public interest and we have a right and duty to cover them," the email read. "We report that [McKenna] was cleared, awarded a settlement, claims to have found God and aspires to become a politician, but any conclusions or opinions formed from the coverage across the media such as ours is subjective." 

The email further said that the reporting was based on McKenna's interview with the Sunday Times, details from court hearings and the lawsuit, adding that the article makes it "clear that this is Mr. McKenna's personal response to and opinion of events." 

"I appreciate that this may not be the outcome you hoped for, but in this instance we cannot accept that our article is inaccurate or that we acted inappropriately and are unable to agree to your request," wrote the compliance team. 

McKenna and Daily Mail did not respond in time for publication.