Minnesota could be without 10 players for the Holiday Bowl.
Ten players have been indefinitely suspended from the team. Four of the 10 were previously suspended this season. The currently suspended players are Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson, Tamarion Johnson, Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Antonio Chenault, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr.
The school declined to comment on the specifics of the suspension to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune citing student privacy, but an attorney representing “several” of the players said the latest suspensions are related to the initial suspensions of four players and come after a university investigation into sexual assault accusations.
Buford, Hardin, Johnson and Johnson were suspended for the first three games of the season following a Sept. 2 sexual assault accusation after the Gophers’ season-opener. The woman who accused the players of sexual assault works at TCF Bank Stadium on game days. She got a restraining order against the four players and Djam in October before dropping the restraining order in November.
The injunction prevented the players from participating in home games. Prosecutors declined to press charges vs. any of the accused players in October due to insufficient evidence. The four suspended players were reinstated to the team after charges weren’t filed.
Per the Star-Tribune, the additional suspensions are because the other players were in the same location at the time of the alleged assault and as a result of the investigation by the school’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office.
According to a person familiar with the case and police documents obtained by the Star Tribune, the five newly suspended players — Green, McCrary, Shenault, Williams and Winfield — were in the apartment Sept. 2, but were not part of the alleged incident.
Hutton was still gathering details Tuesday night but said some of his clients could be facing expulsion, with others facing a one-year team suspension or probation.
The woman who filed the restraining order testified in court that she was sexually assaulted by multiple men. An attorney for the school said at the November hearing regarding the restraining order that a university investigation was still ongoing.
The woman recounted going to an apartment building near the stadium after a football team win over Oregon State. She described a sexual encounter with player Carlton Djam in his room, but said she wasn’t a willing participant. “I felt very overpowered and fearful,” she testified.
She then described a series of successive assaults by men in Djam’s apartment, but conceded she didn’t remember all the details clearly, possibly including the number of young men involved.
The woman had said she was “frozen in fear” as the alleged assaults happened. She admitted she told investigators the sex with Djam was consensual — but said she didn’t believe the claim as she said it.
The MPR report also notes that Hutton’s questions in court included “a discussion of whether at least one of the encounters was videotaped and shared via a phone app or other means.”
As part of the settlement to drop the restraining order, the five players were required to not have any contact with the accuser. Hutton told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday night that he was “ticked” at the school and would be accelerating his timeline to file lawsuits on behalf of his clients vs. the accuser.
Minnesota plays Washington State on Dec. 27.
For more Minnesota news, TheGopherReport.com.
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