US rape claim court delay for former Sydney Grammar vice-captain Lewis McLeod

Mr McLeod’s US attorney Rachel Hitch told The Daily Telegraph her client’s case could be delayed for up to a year after a trial date set for February 16 was adjourned.

The elite university expelled the soccer star last year during his final exams after an Office of Student Conduct investigation accused Mr McLeod of sexual misconduct.

In late 2013, Durham County and university police cleared Mr McLeod of an alleged off-campus incident involving an 18-year-old female student he had met at the Shooters university bar.

The 23-year-old – who gave up a Wall Street job after being banned from receiving his psychology degree – has always claimed he had consensual sex with the woman.

Ms Hitch said her client was back in Australia “taking classes” but was finding it hard to move on without his degree and being dubbed a “rapist”.

“From the second he hired me it was never for the purposes of filing a lawsuit, it was for the purpose of getting this resolved,” Ms Hitch said.

“The job situation is incredibly difficult given his current circumstances, he has no degree … no one has found him guilty.”

Ms Hitch filed a 77-page amended claim in December adding several defendants to the law suit, including lead investigator Dr Celia Irvine.

When the case was heard this month, a Durham County Superior Court judge deferred the matter to allow Ms Hitch and Duke extra time to prepare their cases.

“This was never what Lewis wanted – it’s the worst possible way for him to have to go about getting justice,” she said.

Mr McLeod will return to the US when dates are set for mediation hearings and the civil trial.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal there a dozens of similar cases to Mr McLeod stuck in the US court system involving academic-run university student conduct panels.

“He’s a very resilient kid for all that has happened to him. He’s in limbo – the future he has worked so hard and had in the palm of his hand is gone.”

“He took his last set of exams, he hasn’t got one test left to take.”

Mr McLeod has alleged he was not granted a fair hearing by the university, who hired a contractor to lead the investigation.

Ms Hitch has alleged the investigator did not testify at the hearing and was not qualified as a private investigator, which requires accreditation.

“In North Carolina if you’re going to be hired to conduct a private investigation into allegations against people you have to have a private investigators licence and she did not.”

Mr McLeod, who trained with the Sydney FC Academy, is the son of mining executive Bruce McLeod and film producer Karen McLeod.

Duke University has refused to comment on “pending litigation”.