Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Tuesday he is reviewing the investigation conducted by the University of Minnesota following sexual assault accusations levied against several Gophers football players.
The university’s investigation, details of which were released last week, led to the suspension of 10 players from the team. Five of them face expulsion.
A spokesman for Freeman’s office declined to say why he is reviewing the report; what, if any action he will take once he’s finished or whether the case could be reconsidered for charging. A Minneapolis Police Department spokeswoman said the department will not review the report.
“The university’s investigation was not a criminal investigation,” said Sgt. Catherine Michal, a department spokesperson.
Minneapolis police initially investigated allegations by a U student that she was sexually assaulted by the players at an off-campus apartment in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, and turned over the findings to prosecutors. Freeman’s office announced in early October that no charges would be brought in the case, saying there was “insufficient, admissible evidence” to prove a sexual assault occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.
Afterward, the woman sought a restraining order against the players, which she dropped after a judge ordered that the players not have any contact with her. Both sides also agreed not to sue each other.
Last week, the players were suspended from all team activities upon release of the report conducted by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).
Lee Hutton, an attorney representing the players, said the EOAA recommended expulsion for Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson; one-year suspensions from the university for Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr., and probation for Antonio Shenault. The players have appealed the suspensions and have denied assaulting the woman.
Following the suspensions, Gopher football players announced their intention to boycott the upcoming Holiday Bowl in solidarity with their punished teammates. The team ended the boycott Saturday morning, reportedly after reviewing details of the 80-page EOAA report.
In the report, which was obtained and released by KSTP-TV, the student alleged that she accompanied Djam and an underage recruit to Djam’s apartment, where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by multiple men. When interviewed by police, several players acknowledged having sex with the woman, but said it was consensual. During their investigation, police noted that in a series of videos taken of the incident that lasted about 90 seconds, “at no time does [the woman] indicate that she is in distress or that the contact is unwelcome or nonconsensual.”
In addition to referencing the Minneapolis report, the EOAA report contained more information than the investigation Minneapolis police sent to Freeman, including interviews of more witnesses and players allegedly involved in the incident. One of the witnesses told the EOAA that he and others were listening at the door when he recalled “from the stuff [the woman] said, it didn’t seem like she was into it. She said something and [the men present] decided it was messed up.”
The EEOA report also documented several texts the players sent to each other about trying to have sex that night. The report also found evidence “that the accused students deliberately attempted to impede the University’s fact-finding efforts.”
The EEOA report said that the woman’s memory of the incident “may be faulty at times.” However, it found the woman who reported the sexual assault to be generally more credible than the players.
Hutton did not respond to a request for comment. The accuser’s attorney, Amy Isenor, also declined to comment.