State News

N. Carolina student accuses football player of sex assault

Posted September 13

— A magistrate issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a North Carolina football player accused of sexual battery and assault on a female student in February.

The warrant charges Allen Artis, a 21-year-old junior linebacker From Marietta, Georgia, with two misdemeanors and says he had sex with the woman against her will when he "should have reasonably known that the other person was mentally incapacitated and physically helpless."

The woman, Delaney Robinson, said she had become intoxicated after being out with friends and was unable to consent.

The Associated Press typically doesn't identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Robinson held a news conference Tuesday, saying she filed for the misdemeanor charges after police and prosecutors indicated there wasn't enough evidence to pursue felony charges.

Artis could not be reached for comment. He did not practice Tuesday and was indefinitely suspended under a university policy that applies to athletes charged with misdemeanors, team spokesman Kevin Best said.

Artis' attorney did not return a message.

Robinson's lawyer said campus police botched the handling of a rape kit and the questioning of Artis.

Robinson, 19, said a video of that questioning angered her.

"Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators talked to him in a tone of camaraderie. They provided reassurances to him when he became upset, even laughed with him when he told about how many girls' phone numbers he was able to get on the same night," the sophomore said as her father was seated next to her. "I was treated like a suspect."

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said no final decisions have been made on whether to prosecute, but Robinson's attorney Denise Branch pointed to an Aug. 2 email she received from one of Woodall's assistant prosecutors about the felony charges.

"As to a charging decision, that determination is made primarily by the investigating agency, in this case, UNC Public Safety," Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Nieman said in the email. "UNC DPS has made clear their determination that the evidence does not support criminal charges, and our review of the investigation does not lead us to advise or otherwise take action to the contrary."

Woodall said he spoke Tuesday with campus police chief Jeff McCracken to confirm investigative efforts are continuing. The detective on the case consulted with Woodall's office as recently as late last month, the prosecutor said.

"At this point, we're waiting on additional evidence," Woodall said.

Woodall emphasized that winning a conviction on felony charges carry a high bar of evidence.

Campus police had no comment. University officials also refused to respond to questions, instead issuing a statement that the school takes all allegations about sexual violence or sexual misconduct seriously.

"These matters are complex and often involve multiple agencies including law enforcement. While the university always tries to complete an investigation as quickly as possible, our priority is to ensure that the factual investigations are complete and conducted in a fair and thorough manner," campus spokesman Joel Curran said in the statement.

Two years ago, UNC-Chapel Hill revised its policy on discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and sexual misconduct after four current and former students and a former administrator accused the school of underreporting sexual assault cases for 2010 in an annual report to the federal government. Their complaint also alleged that campus officials allowed a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault. The university denied underreporting crimes.

Artis is a reserve who has one tackle in two games this season for the Tar Heels (1-1). He played primarily on special teams last year and had 19 tackles during his first two seasons.

Coach Larry Fedora said in a statement that he was aware of the charges but couldn't comment.

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Follow Emery P. Dalesio at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/emery-p-dalesio.

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Beard reported from Hillsborough, North Carolina.

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