No charges in Razorback probe UPDATES | Arkansas Blog

Friday, February 5, 2010

No charges in Razorback probe UPDATES

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 1:36 PM

As I'd heard yesterday, a special prosecutor has completed his review and recommended no charges in the case of a University of Arkansas freshman's allegation that she was raped by three Razorback basketball players at a fraternity party on campus last year.

Former Faulkner County prosecutor H.G. Foster, who was appointed in November to review the case by Circuit Judge William Storey, filed a letter with the judge this morning.

The brief letter said that, based on investigations of the UA police, findings of the state Crime Lab and other information, it was Foster's opinion that there wasn't evidence sufficient to warrant the filing of criminal charges. Washington Prosecutor John Threet had earlier reached the same conclusion, but didn't object when a lawyer representing the woman asked for an independent review. She has said she didn't consent to sexual contact. The players said she did. She reported the assault several hours after her encounter with the players Aug. 27 at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.

Judge Storey said that, because no charges have been recommended, "This matter is over with."

John Bass, attorney for the woman, issued this statement. It said the family was "disappointed" in the finding. It also said the case still pointed up the need for "systemic" change in how the UA conducts criminal investigations involving athletes. It continued:

The family has exhausted all remedies available to them through the criminal justice system and shall not seek alternative relief. The pursuit of justice was their only goal. Moving forward, the family will continue their advocacy efforts for rape prevention and education, and will work toward effecting systemic change.

The three players -- Marcus Britt, Glenn Bryant and Nick Mason -- spoke publicly for the first time in a joint statement issued by their attorney, John Everett. It said Britt and Bryant took polygraph tests on their version of events and passed. It also said they'd submitted DNA samples that proved "beyond a reasonable doubt that we did not commit the acts of which we were accused as the DNA taken from the accuser was not contributed by any of us."

The three said they were guilty of "conduct unbecoming of a Razorback student/athlete," but said they believed they deserved an apology from the accuser for "baseless but inflammatory allegations."

Foster  releasef the complete file of his investigation late this afternoon. It included Crime Lab reports that excluded the basketball players as the source of DNA evidence found in the woman's rape examination. The police reports had been released previously, including accounts of a witness who entered the frat bedroom to see the woman giving oral sex to one player, manual stimulation to another and a third player behind the woman "rubbing against her buttocks with his pelvis."

On the jump, UA athletic officials comment on the "exonerated" athletes.

 

UA NEWS RELEASE

 

FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Athletic Department has released the following statements from Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long and Head Men’s Basketball Coach John Pelphrey regarding the report submitted by Special Prosecutor H.G. Foster. 


Jeff Long, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics

“We are pleased that a second comprehensive and independent review of the serious allegations made against three men’s basketball student-athletes has found no criminal wrongdoing. Given that the student-athletes have been cleared and exonerated by independent investigations conducted by the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office and Special Prosecutor H.G. Foster, the reputations of the student-athletes falsely accused should be restored.  With serious criminal allegations, it is even more important to allow the investigative process to run its course before passing judgment or condemning those who have been accused.  


“Coach Pelphrey has acted appropriately and decisively in addressing student-athlete conduct in our men’s basketball program and has demonstrated a commitment to our high expectations. Our athletic program is committed to working with student-athletes to foster their academic, athletic and social development while at the University of Arkansas.” 


John Pelphrey, Head Men’s Basketball Coach

“I am happy that three young men on our basketball team have once again been cleared of any criminal misconduct. For the past five months, these young men and our program have been scrutinized in the court of public opinion based primarily upon unsupported allegations and speculation. I believe that the review conducted by the special prosecutor unequivocally demonstrates that these student-athletes did not commit any crime. Now that this process has been completed, we will continue to work with these young men to enable them to move forward in a positive fashion in their academic and athletic pursuits. 


“As always, we will continue to address disciplinary matters in a straight-forward manner and take action when players do not meet the high expectations of conduct required of our student-athletes. We will also continue to stand behind our student-athletes as our program remains committed to representing the University of Arkansas, individually and collectively, in an appropriate manner.”

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