I am a former Fairfield University graduate and former football teammate of William Rom. I have seen first hand the things that Rom did while he was a student at Fairfield, and I know that the jury was not provided the full and truthful story. Carey Dietmann, a member of the jury that awarded sums in excess of $100,000 stated: “The message should go out not only to Fairfield University but to other colleges that kids will make mistakes and, when they do, schools have to deal with them fairly. Fairfield University didn’t do that here.”

From the story that was told to the jury it may have appeared that he was not treated fairly, but from my accounts Rom was treated fairly, and in my opinion got more chances than most would. If he is going to be awarded that sum of money, then in fairness to the Fairfield community, I feel the whole truth needs to be told. This is my story:

Rom and I were on the football team together. We had a dispute on the field one day. It carried off the field and into my personal life. One night he called me several times calling me a “wuss” (to tone down what was actually said) saying that he wanted me to come outside and fight him. I didn’t, and I told him to stop calling.

I thought the dispute had come to an end and he would leave it alone. I proceeded to the third floor community bathroom in Gonzaga Hall to get ready for bed. Rom came in the bathroom behind me, and when I turned around, he punched me in the face. Not expecting the punch, I fell and hit my eye hard on the lip of the urinal.

I split open my eye and went unconscious on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood. Rom, not caring in the least, left me for dead on the floor.

Had a woman walking by not heard the whole thing and come to my aid, God knows what would have happened.

My eye was so bad, I looked like Rocky. I needed 10 stitches in my eye the next day, and continued on to football practice like normal. My coach advised me not to go to the police or the school, as this would jeopardize Rom’s eligibility as a varsity starter, and as a team player that would be the wrong thing to do.

I kept this to myself and did not file a police report, or even go to the school. In retrospect, I realize that I should have pressed charges, and none of this would have happened (Rom winning up to $200,000). After that Rom and I had two more “run-ins,” prompting me to go to the dean of students. After further review from the judicial system Rom was suspended from the University for this, in conjunction with all the other things he did (vandalism, streaking, etc).

Rom was a menace to Fairfield University life and caused nothing but aggravation while he was a student. In my opinion, Rom was an immature kid, with no regard for the well-being of, safety of or respect for those around him.

Fairfield University was completely justified in suspending him. He got everything that was coming to him. The fact that he can turn around and squeeze $200,000 out of Fairfield is the most absurd thing I have ever heard.

Beyond that, I am disappointed in Fairfield University for not contacting me, as I would have testified against Rom in a heartbeat. I hope this helps shed some light on Rom and I hope Fairfield University remains a leader in higher education.


Shawn Schuerlein ’04

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