Tennessee players put 'a hit' on teammate for helping rape victim: lawsuit

A former University of Tennessee football player was "jumped" by teammates who "had a hit on him". Photo / Getty Images.
A former University of Tennessee football player was "jumped" by teammates who "had a hit on him". Photo / Getty Images.

A former University of Tennessee football player was "jumped" by teammates who "had a hit on him" after he helped the victim of an alleged rape by two members of the Volunteers squad, a federal lawsuit against the school alleges.

A Tennessee student who allegedly was raped by linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams at a party in November 2014 is one of six plaintiffs in the Title IX suit, which accuses school administrators of "deliberately indifferent" actions and creating a "hostile sexual environment," according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The lawsuit - drawing on police interviews and a Knoxville PD incident report - states wide receiver Drae Bowles took the alleged victim to the hospital and supported her reporting the incident to authorities, the News Sentinel reports. The next day, Bowles was seen by another plaintiff getting physically attacked by several football players, in the presence of several coaches.

A second attack on Bowles followed at the team facility days later.

Former defensive back Geraldo Orta "told Williams that the football team had 'a hit' out on Drae Bowles," via an interview cited in the lawsuit, and Orta told police that "Bowles had betrayed the team and that where he [Orta] came from, people got shot for doing what Bowles did."

Bowles missed multiple practices in the week following the alleged rape, which a spokesman at the time attributed to academic reasons.

Bowles, who later transferred to Chattanooga, gave the same explanation in an interview last year with the News Sentinel.

He denied he had been assaulted, and said the alleged victim did not say she had been raped when he gave her a ride home from the party.

Johnson and Williams were suspended from the team after they were accused, eventually dismissed, and face trial this summer.

A statement from Tennessee legal counsel Bill Ramsey said: "Any assertion that we do not take sexual assault seriously enough is simply not true. To claim that we have allowed a culture to exist contrary to our institutional commitment to providing a safe environment for our students or that we do not support those who report sexual assault is just false."

-News.com.au

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