University of Tennessee suspends two football players named in rape investigation

A pair of University of Tennessee football players have been suspended from the team after it was discovered they’d been named as suspects in a rape and sexual assault case.

The school’s Athletics Department announced via Twitter that linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams had been suspended from all team-related activities.

Police indicate that the alleged incident took place shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday morning at a Woodlands apartment complex, as reported by two 19-year-old women.

WBIR reports that one victim alleged she had been raped by two UT students while the other claimed to have been sexually assaulted.

Both women were examined at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

While one of the alleged victims was a student the other was visiting a friend in Knoxville and has since chosen to return to her home in Florida and will not press charges at this time.

Neither of the players have been charged with a crime.

According to attorney James A. H. Bell, aggravated rape is a class A felony with mandatory prison sentencing but there must be evidence of unlawful sexual penetration. Without such evidence a suspect may be charged with sexual battery.

‘When you have an actual rape charge, don’t overlook the fact that you will have a lot more forensics such as semen, or DNA, and that type of thing,’ Bell said.

A wait for DNA evidence could mean a long investigation.

‘Right now in the process of gathering all information,’ coach Butch Jones told reporters. ‘Once we have all that appropriate information we will act in a very decisive matter which we have proven over time to do here at the University of Tennessee.’

Johnson was arrested in February and charged with buying alcohol for people under 21 and for resisting arrest.

However a judge dropped the charges when the linebacker made a plea agreement.

This is Johnson’s senior year with the program.

‘I had only two classes and I already heard a bunch about it,’ said UT student Stephen Rolfes.

Radio host Dave Hooker notes the timing of the investigation is crucial for the players.

‘I think if these allegations are true, AJ Johnson would have a heck of a price to pay. Because he is five months away from the NFL draft and that’s where he can become a millionaire,’ he said.

Source: The DailyMail

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