Saddening news came out of Knoxville last night that former Tennesssee wide receiver Drae Bowles was assaulted by fellow players after he helped “the woman who accused linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Mike Williams of rape in November 2014,” the Knoxville News-Sentinel has reported.

In November 14 2014 former UT linebacker AJ Johnson and defensive back Mike Williams raped a woman during a party at a football players’ house, in which alcohol and marijuana were used. And then comes the Bowles incident.

According to the lawsuit the victim “received a message from Plaintiff Doe V who was witnessing (at that moment) several football players “jumping” Drae Bowles, a member of the football team that had actually taken Plaintiff Doe IV to the hospital the night of her assault and who had supported her decision to report the incident to the authorities.

The lawsuit added that the victim – a varsity UT sportswoman – had informed head coach Butch Jones and Jon Gilbert (the executive senior associate AD) and Mike Ward – the senior associate AD for administration and sports programs – and even provided the identities of the players, but was told only “we’ll look into it.” The victim added that she “became aware of a second assault on Drae Bowles in the team facility by the same football players“.

Williams said in a police interview that he was told by Geraldo Orta, a former safety (more about him later) “had told Williams that the football team had “a hit” out on Drae Bowles“. “In his interviews with police, UT football player Geraldo Orta stated that he felt Bowles had betrayed the team and that where he (Orta) came from, people got shot for doing what Bowles did. These facts are set forth in the Knoxville Police Department Incident Report,” the suit continues, adding: “During the interview Orta also admitted having approached Drae Bowles in Smokey’s Cafe (the athletic dining facility), getting “in his face” and saying “some threatening things.

UT DE Curt Maggittconfronted Drae Bowles in the team locker room before the team was instructed by Head Coach Butch Jones not to talk to him and before Bowles was “given time away from the team.

The school went ahead and told everybody that they loved AJ Johnson – probably not a wise move in hindsight, bearing in mind both Johnson and Williams now stand trial for rape.

In the lawsuit was filed by FIVE UT female students – who were not named – who said that the university was indifferent to charges by them of sexual assault from football players and other athletes – included four rapes.

These are the rapes in date order, according to the lawsuit:

— Another player in a lawsuit was former UT basketball Yemi Makanjuola, who in 2013, allegedly forced himself onto student nurse on Valentine’s Day in 2013 after the victim said that she rejected his “sexual advances”. And despite a disciplinary hearing and court order, Makanjuola continued to play for the basketball team. “Upon information and belief, the purpose of requesting a disciplinary hearing was to allow Makanjuola to continue to play basketball throughout the remainder of the season and to allow UT to effectuate his transfer to another school, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where UT’s Head of Basketball Operations, Houston Fancher, had accepted a coaching job,” the lawsuit said. And despite there being a protective order, Makanjuola tried to contact the victim five months later, causing her PTSD and to fail her nurses’ exams.

— In April 2013 accuses former UT running back Marlin Lane and safety Geraldo Orta, as well as Izauea Lanier of a rape that happened in Vol Hall, that houses the student athletes. Apparently UT let the players know that they were going to be interviewed: “During the investigation, UT football players were interviewed but only after they had already been made aware of the allegations by UT and had conversations with their teammates.” It adds: “Upon information and belief, these conversations and prior actions by UT allowed the players to “get their stories straight.” In this case, there was consensual sex with Orta, but was raped by Lane, who joined in without consent. “No disciplinary action was taken at all against the football players except a nominal “suspension” on April 13, 2013, when UT football player Marlin Lane was suspended from the football team for what was stated by Head Coach Butch Jones as “disciplinary reasons,” the lawsuit says. “The purely facial “suspension” only consisted of Lane missing four practices and a scrimmage before he was fully reinstated to the team less than two months later at which time Head Coach Butch Jones described him as a “success story,” and Lane has since been promoted to a member of the Vols’ 13-man player staff of team leaders,” it adds.

— In April 2014 there was another rape by an unnamed UT football player, after the victim came back from a frat party. “Plaintiff  informed UTK investigators that when she woke up the morning after the assault, she found a strap had been ripped off her top and the button ripped off her shorts and photographs were taken of the torn clothes,” the lawsuit says. At the time, the player tried to attack the victim by filing two complaints about her accusation, including the “theft” of a sweater. “The completely baseless and retaliatory reports filed by Mr. Doe I were premised inpart on Plaintiff’s actions in leaving the dorm the following morning wearing a sweatshirt, actions she were forced to take because her clothes had been torn off during the sexual assault“. There was a UT investigation, but it found that “as with other UT investigations, Plaintiff’s account was completely discounted and, based on the “collective” (and virtually identical) accounts of Mr. Doe I’s teammates and a time-lapsed video from an unspecified time after the assault (that arguably shows Ms. Doe II tripping while trying to walk, UT determined that, by a preponderance of the evidence, she could not have been incapacitated and, further, that the sexual encounter was consensual“.

— In September 2014 running back Treyvon Paulk was accused of punching a woman in the mouth. He was later suspended and then summarily dismissed from the team. What’s interesting about the Paulk story is that despite being suspended from team activities, Paulk still practiced with the team and participating in team events.

— In February 2015 cornerback Riyadh Jones – now at Georgia Southern – was accused of rape by “Plaintiff VI”. And although the case is now closed after she decided not to prosecute Jones, it seems that the victim was threatened – via her roommate. The lawsuit says: “Plaintiff’s roommate was repeatedly called by Riyahd Jones’s roommates (also football players) who were threatening/pleading (through roommate) for Plaintiff to drop the allegations.” She notes that one of the players trying to “mitigate” the damage was running back Deanthonie Summerhill (a UT running back who was living with Riyahd Jones), who has since left the school.

“Given the preceding events at UT, these players should have been educated extensively (and on multiple occasions) regarding the impropriety of attempts to contact a victim of an alleged sexual assault,” the lawsuit adds.

The lawsuit accuses the school of violating Title IX and being indifferent to all of the charges, and also adds that the school provided alcohol to recruits and underage students in an effort to show them a “good time”, and acted “with deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment“.

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There is so much frightening when reading through the actual lawsuit. Firstly, the assaults themselves. Anyone who’s not sickened reading about the assaults probably needs to go and see somebody. Secondly, the University of Tennessee itself: It basically covered up every single one of the assaults. Unlike other programs like Georgia, UT let Jones and Paulk stay on campus, as well as AJ Johnson and Mike Williams. Mark Richt would have thrown them out. And the bit about the players getting their stories together before being interviewed? Are you ****ing kidding me? If this is true, we hope that this makes not only institutional change within the SEC, but in college football. And we hope that UT pays the victims a huge amount of money and bans itself from a bowl or two. Or three. Or four. Or five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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