Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman won’t pursue criminal charges against five N.C. State University football players in connection to sexual assault allegations filed by three women after a party at a campus apartment in July.
“Our office has undertaken a detailed review of the information provided from the investigation conducted by North Carolina State University police. The evidence does not support moving forward with a criminal prosecution,” Freeman said Friday afternoon.
The five students were all freshmen members of the Wolfpack football team. Two of them – Antoine Thompson and Kevince Brown – were dismissed from the team by NCSU head football coach Dave Doeren in August. The other three – Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas – were suspended for violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct.
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In a statement Friday afternoon, Doeren said, “I continue to respect due process and these student-athletes remain suspended from competition until conclusion of the University’s investigation. As I said previously, I will be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline. We have a team full of young men committed to representing the University with integrity and respect.”
NCSU athletic director Debbie Yow agreed.
“As we have said throughout the investigations into these allegations, we respect due process,” Yow said in a statement. “The student-athletes will remain suspended from competition until the conclusion of the University’s continuing Title IX investigation.”
Freeman said her office reviewed the statements of those involved and other witnesses, as well as university security video footage and messages between the parties involved. The office also consulted with toxicology experts in reaching its decision.
The district attorney pointed out that under North Carolina law, a conviction for second-degree rape or sexual battery requires a finding that force was used in the commission of the assault and that the assault was against the will of the victim, or that the victim was mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled or physically helpless at the time of the assault.
The alleged sexual assaults happened between 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. July 21 at Timber Hall, a student apartment building at Wolf Village, near Western Boulevard, said NCSU police chief Jack Moorman. Wolf Village is an apartment-style residence community, with resident advisers on site.
Wolfpack players were enrolled in summer school then before the start of the fall season. Practice started a week later.
Moorman said fewer than a dozen people attended the private party at one of the five football player’s Wolf Village rooms. The five players were there, along with the three women.
In applying for warrants to search phones, cars and rooms of football players, investigators chronicled what the three accusers told them a day after the party.
One of the women said that while she was there, she became inebriated after consuming alcohol and smoking marijuana and thinks she was sexually assaulted by seven to 10 men.
“She stated that over the course of the night she had periods where she blacked out and lost consciousness,” NCSU police detective J. Smith-Andrews wrote in an application for a search warrant. “During this time while she was impaired,” the woman believed “she may have had sex with between 7-10 men, but she is not certain.”
Another woman told police she was approached from behind and groped by somebody while at the party, but she was able to leave. A third woman said she felt pressured to have sex with one of the men.
Moorman said police spent about 800 hours investigating the sexual-assault allegations through interviews and search warrants. A team of four detectives was assigned to the case and worked in concert with the district attorney’s special victims unit, Moorman said.
Title IX investigation
While police led the criminal investigation, the university has conducted a Title IX investigation. Violations of the school’s Student Code of Conduct could lead to more disciplinary actions by the school, including expulsion, according to the university.
Title IX refers to the federal law that prohibits discrimination at educational institutions based on sex in any federally-funded education program or activity.
The university police notified the athletic department of the players involved on Aug. 8, according to the school. The players were disciplined by Doeren over the course of the next two days.
Thompson was a freshman receiver for the team and Brown was a freshman defensive end. Neither are still enrolled at N.C. State, Yow said last month.
The three who are suspended from competition but remain on the team are Lyas, a defensive end; Collins, a running back; and Moore, a linebacker.
None of the players were expected to make a huge impact for the Wolfpack team this fall.