ESPN reports new allegations against former MU running back Derrick Washington

08/21/2014 6:53 PM

08/22/2014 7:45 AM

New allegations against former Missouri running back Derrick Washington surfaced Thursday as part of a report by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” which also said MU officials didn’t properly handle an alleged sexual assault as required by Title IX.

Washington, a Raymore-Peculiar graduate, was dismissed from the Tigers football team in September 2010, two days after he was charged with felony deviate sexual assault against a female former MU athletics tutor. About two weeks later, in an unrelated case, Washington was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault against a former girlfriend.

Washington was convicted in both cases. But ESPN’s report uncovered two previously unreported allegations against Washington — an alleged October 2008 sexual assault of a female MU student and an alleged May 2010 assault against a MU women’s soccer player. Charges were not filed in either case.

According to ESPN, Missouri assistant football coaches and the victim’s adviser were aware of the sexual assault allegation but didn’t report it to the university so the school could start an investigation as required by Title IX. Also, the assault victim told ESPN that she felt her coach said she should decline to press charges against Washington in order to keep her scholarship, a claim MU chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said was unsubstantiated.

“Though there does not appear to be an intentional mishandling of any of the cases in the report at this time, I make no excuses, and offer my personal apologies and those of my staff to the victims,” Loftin said Thursday.

“No degree of explanation or regret can undo what has happened in the past. Our focus now is to do everything within our power to prevent sexual misconduct of any type at Missouri and, if it does unfortunately occur, to provide the resources and support to the victim while assuring that the perpetrator is brought to justice.”

According to MU Police, Washington was investigated in October 2008 for the alleged sexual assault of a female MU student in her dorm. But former Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney Andrew Scholz declined to press charges against Washington.

Scholz, who entered private practice in 2010, told ESPN that there were issues with witness statements. Washington agreed not have contact with the woman and was required to attend rape-awareness classes.

Also according to ESPN, the woman told her faculty adviser about the alleged rape, but the adviser denied being told Washington was involved. Washington’s parents, however, told ESPN that Missouri football assistant coaches discussed the case with them.

The woman said no one from MU contacted her about launching an investigation.

In May 2010, Washington’s girlfriend got into a bar fight with a Missouri women’s soccer player, who alleged that Washington punched her in the face.

The next day, the soccer player, who was arrested for her role in the fight, returned to the Columbia Police Department and declined to press charges against Washington.

According to a police report, the player indicated her soccer coach said her scholarship might be in danger because of her arrest, but that “her coach made her feel as though she would not have any problems with her scholarship if she declined to prosecute.”

Loftin said in a statement that “we spoke to the coach, the former player and others and found that claim to be unsubstantiated.”

Loftin said the coach, Bryan Blitz, was trying to tell her player that because she was arrested for fighting that “her involvement with the law in this case could result in the revocation of her scholarship.

“It’s my understanding, and my understanding only right now, having looked at some of the documentation here and other pieces of it, that she walked away apparently with a different impression of that: that if she were to pursue this, that there (could) be a loss of scholarship possibly because of the involvement of Washington in this. That was not, in my understanding, the intent of the soccer coach.”

Washington, who finished his eligibility at Tuskegee in 2012, served four months in prison for the sexual assault conviction as part of a first-time offenders program and was required to register as a sex offender. He served a 90-day sentence for the domestic assault concurrently.

Since February, Missouri undertook a sweeping inventory of its Title IX responsibilities after a previous ESPN “Outside the Lines” report about the university’s handling of a former MU swimmer’s rape allegations. Swimmer Sasha Menu Courey committed suicide after a sexual assault that also was never investigated.

At University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe’s suggestion, MU and the state’s other land-grant colleges strengthened reporting policies, inventoried resources for victims and dedicated more staff and resources toward ensuring Title IX compliance.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @todpalmer.

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