Local News

Wake DA: No sex assault charges against NCSU players

Posted September 15, 2017 4:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2017 11:23 p.m. EDT

— Five North Carolina State University football players won't face sex assault charges in connection with allegations made by women who attended a July party on campus, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Friday.

"The evidence does not support moving forward with a criminal prosecution," Freeman said in a statement.

Three women said they were assaulted at the party, which took place in the Wolf Village apartment of one of the players.

One of the women told investigators she experienced blackouts and believes she was raped by as many as seven people, according to search warrants in the case. She also told police she thought the attack was recorded on other students' cell phones.

Another woman told police she was approached from behind and groped by somebody, but she was able to leave the apartment. A third woman said she felt pressured to have sex twice with one of the men because he was being aggressive, telling investigators that she felt "it would be best for her to go ahead and get it over with."

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, Freeman said in her emailed statement.

She said she had to weigh conflicting statements from the people involved and also reviewed the statements of other witnesses, university security video footage and messages between the people involved. She also consulted with toxicology experts in reaching the decision not to prosecute, she said.

"Trying to reach determination that there had been either mental incapacity or physical helplessness, the evidence simply did not support a funding under the law that would support a criminal prosecution going forward," Freeman said.

Before announcing her decision not to prosecute, Freemen spent hours with the women involved and their families.

"I am not going to represent they were happy with the decision," she said. "I think they understand what our burden is under the law."

Nick Clifford represents Isaiah Moore, one of the accused N.C. State football players.

"We held from the outset that our client was innocent," Clifford said. "Not to take anything away from the people on the other side, but it has certainly been a challenge for these young men."

Because underage drinking and illegal drug use occurred at the party, the five football players were disciplined by the university for violating the student-athlete code of conduct and team rules: Antoine Thompson and Kevince Brown were dismissed from the team, while Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas were suspended.

Moore, Collins and Lyas remain suspended, pending the outcome of a Title IX investigation N.C. State is conducting to determine if any violations of the student code of conduct occurred, school officials said.

"As we have said throughout the investigations into these allegations, we respect due process," Athletics Director Debbie Yow said in a statement. "The student-athletes will remain suspended from competition until the conclusion of the University’s continuing Title IX 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," football coach Dave Doeren said in a statement.

"The University's student conduct review continues, and appropriate action will be taken if violations are found," Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.