A former Tennessee football star claims he was attacked by his teammates and told by head coach Butch Jones he had ‘betrayed the team’ after he helped a woman who said she had been raped by two other Volunteers players.
An amended complaint filed Wednesday in a federal Title IX lawsuit against Tennessee states a woman called 911 from former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowles’ car to report a rape in the early morning hours of November 16, 2014.
The complaint also states that Bowles suffered a bloody lip when teammate Curt Maggitt punched him in the mouth later that day and that he was confronted by teammates Geraldo Orta and Marlin Lane the following day.
Bowles called Jones to tell him about being hit, and Jones said he was very disappointed in Bowles and that the receiver had ‘betrayed the team,’ causing the player to break down and cry, according to the complaint. It states Jones called Bowles several hours later to apologize for his remarks.
‘The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false,’ Jones said in a statement late Wednesday night.
‘To the contrary, I did all I could to assist the former student in question. During the course of the judicial process, campus officials, as well as the young man’s own words, will clearly establish that I have done nothing wrong.
‘I will fight all of these false attacks on my character, and I know that once this process has been completed, my reputation will be affirmed.’
The woman’s report of the attack led to the arrests of former linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams, who were indicted on two counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aiding and abetting each other in February 2015.
A female athlete, who was 19 at the time, accused the men of raping her at a house party, the Knoxville News Sentinel said. Both men pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.
Tennessee issued a statement Wednesday night from its lawyer that said after reviewing the amended complaint, ‘We continue to stand by our actions.
‘The facts, as opposed to allegations in a complaint, will demonstrate that the University acted properly in the matters at issue,’ said Bill Ramsey, the university’s lawyer. ‘We have continuously worked hard to improve our processes and our procedures to ensure that we are doing all that we can to prevent incidents of assault, to support victims of assault and to pursue justice while ensuring due process for those accused. We will vigorously defend all claims in the amended complaint.’
Two more plaintiffs were added to the federal lawsuit. It alleges Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations and created a ‘hostile sexual environment’ through a policy of indifference toward assaults by student-athletes. The suit now includes eight unidentified women, all referred to in the complaint as ‘Jane Doe,’ as plaintiffs.
Although the allegations that Bowles was attacked by teammates were in the original complaint filed February 9 in Nashville, the amendment adds details and a signed declaration from Bowles that states the allegations in the suit ‘are true with respect to the statements and descriptions of events pertaining to me.’
Bowles transferred to Chattanooga after the 2014 season.
The complaint states Bowles was driving when he noticed a woman ‘hyperventilating and crying near bushes in the parking lot.’
When Bowles was in the locker room later that day, according to the complaint, Maggitt confronted him and Bowles fought back and threw punches before teammates separated the brawlers.
Bowles was eating alone the next day when Orta and Lane ‘aggressively came over to Bowles’ table to jump him as they shouted at him’ before football strength coach Brandon Myles intervened, the complaint states. It also states Jones took no action to discipline Orta, Lane or Maggitt.
The amended complaint is the latest in a flurry of activity around the case.
Tennessee’s 16 head coaches held a rare joint press conference Tuesday morning to defend the school’s athletic department and say it has been portrayed in an unfair manner.
Tuesday night, the university announced it had filed a motion to strike a reference to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning from the lawsuit.
One paragraph in the document mentions a sexual harassment complaint made by a Tennessee trainer in 1996 including one involving Manning, then the Volunteers quarterback.
The amended complaint also references two more reports from the last year, including one involving Alexis Johnson. The defensive lineman was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and false imprisonment eight days after the suit was filed.
Johnson has been suspended from all team-related activities. His lawyer, Gregory Isaacs, has said his client ‘adamantly denies the allegations.’
David Randolph Smith, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, also submitted signed declarations from former vice chancellor Tim Rogers and former director of the office of student judicial affairs Jenny Wright confirming the accuracy of statements made about them in the amended complaint.
The lawsuit states Rogers stepped down in 2013 ‘in protest over the violation of Title IX and the UT administration’s and athletic department’s deliberate indifference to the clear and present danger of sexual assaults by UT athletes.’