Former University of Tennessee football players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were found not guilty of rape Friday by a Knox County jury.
According to 247Sports, Knox County Assistant District Attorney General Leslie Nassios argued that Johnson and Williams raped a female UT athlete in Johnson’s bedroom during a postgame party in November of 2014. Both players were dismissed from the university as a result of the charges and have not played football, college or professional, since.
The accuser reportedly told jurors that she consented to having sex with Johnson and had sex with him on two other occasions. She testified, however, that she did not agree to have sex with both Johnson and Williams later that night when they entered the room, locked the door and proceeded to have sex with her. The woman told jurors that she told them to stop but they didn’t.
Defense attorneys for the two men, Stephen Ross Johnson for A.J. Johnson, and David Eldridge for Williams, countered that the sex was consensual and the accuser only claimed she was raped after others at the party learned of the encounter.
“She never knew it would get this out of control,” Johnson’s attorney told jurors. “She can’t turn that back.”
Nassos refuted the argument, suggesting the defense was attempting to divert the jury’s attention away from the central issue.
“She said no, and they put their hands over her mouth to shut her up,” Nassios said,. “They didn’t want to hear her. They (passed) her back and forth. … She’s a thing – not a human being, not a person. She’s meat. She had a mouth and a vagina. That’s what she was to them. This was a gang bang. This is rape.”