A federal lawsuit filed in Nashville on Tuesday claims that Tennessee football players assaulted former wide receiver Drae Bowles after he helped a woman who accused fellow teammates A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams of rape in November of 2014.
According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the lawsuit was filed by six unnamed Tennessee female students, including five alleged rape victims. The suit claims the University of Tennessee violated Title IX and other federal laws by not taking action before and after the alleged rapes. Four of the sexual assaults in question were allegedly committed by Tennessee athletes.
The report states:
"The lawsuit also charges that UT created a “hostile sexual environment” through deliberate indifference, and that UT officials, including chancellor Jimmy Cheek, athletic director Dave Hart and UT football coach Butch Jones, failed to address that environment."
The “factual allegations” section of the lawsuit states that Bowles took one of the alleged victims (referred to as Jane Doe IV) to the hospital the night she was assaulted, and supported her decision to report the crime to the authorities. It further claims that the fifth plaintiff in the case (Jane Doe V) “witnessed several football players ‘jumping’ Bowles on Nov. 17, 2014, the day after the alleged rape occurred.”
Jane Doe IV was apparently told that “athletic coaches were present” during that altercation, and she also learned that Bowles was assaulted a second time by the same players at a team facility.
The News-Sentinel report continues:
"The lawsuit claims that former linebacker Curt Maggitt “admitted” the second assault in interviews with police, but doesn’t specify whether or not Maggitt was part of the assault. It says that Williams said in an interview with police on Nov. 26 that former defensive back Geraldo Orta “had told Williams that the football team had ‘a hit’ out on Drae Bowles.” The lawsuit claims that Orta told police that he felt “Bowles had betrayed the team and that where he (Orta) came from, people got shot for doing what Bowles did.” It also said Orta told police that he had gotten “in Bowles’ face” and said “some threatening things” at Smokey’s Cafe, the athletic dining facility. It also said that Orta told police Maggitt confronted Bowles in the team locker room in an incident separate from the assault."
Bowles was called to testify to the grand jury that eventually indicted Johnson and Williams. In an interview from February 13, 2015, he claimed he had given the alleged victim a ride home from the party where the rape occurred, but she did not tell him she was sexually assaulted. He also denied that he had been assaulted himself.
Bowles eventually transferred to Chattanooga after the 2014 season. Williams and Johnson face separate trials that are set to begin in June and July respectively. Bowles has reportedly received a subpoena to testify.
Butch Jones took over as the head football coach at Tennessee in 2013 and has a 21-17 record during his tenure. The Volunteers are seen as a program on the rise, but if these allegations prove true it’s fair to say there is a major culture problem there. Jones is mentioned by name in the lawsuit, and this is the kind of scandal that can get a coach fired.