The grand jury refuses to indict the players
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A grand jury has refused to indict the six Kentucky soccer players facing burglary charges following a brawl in March at a fraternity party.
Offensive lineman RJ Adams, running back JuTahn McClain, defensive back Andru Phillips, wide receiver Earnest Sanders IV, safety back Vito Tisdale and defensive back Joel Williams were each charged with first degree burglary in August. . Tisdale was also charged with gratuitous first degree endangerment for “being identified as the suspect pointing a handgun at one of the victims,” according to a press release from the Lexington Police Department.
The players, who have pleaded not guilty to the charges, waived their preliminary grand jury hearings on August 25.
The grand jury heard the case on Monday and delivered its decision on Tuesday. With all charges dropped, all six players were allowed to resume their team activities, a university spokeswoman confirmed shortly after the grand jury’s decision was announced.
An email from victims’ lawyer Kimberly Emeric to revelers who testified at the grand jury hearing provided to the Courier Journal said prosecutors presented all the evidence and “gave jurors all options to possible accusation “. The grand jury then decided to close the case in its entirety.
According to the statement from the police department, three players entered uninvited into a residence where a private party was being held on March 6 and were asked to leave. The players got angry and threatened to come back.
Soon after, all three of these players returned with additional teammates and forced their way into the residence. A player, Tisdale, was reportedly seen pointing a gun at a victim.
According to court documents, the players “were involved in a physical altercation with several occupants of the residence”. The players alleged the fight was sparked by an anonymous party girl calling them racial insults once they got home.
The Kentucky Department of Athletics first learned of the incident in March.
After initially stating that all six players had been detained from team activities for 11 weeks, a university spokesperson clarified that each of the players had been detained from team activities once the program had kicked off. learned of his alleged involvement in the incident.
“For most of them it was the week after the incident on March 6, but for at least one player it happened at a later date,” the spokesperson said. “We got the players back to team activities with those that resumed in June.”
The players were dismissed to the team after being cleared by a college conduct committee investigating the incident. While the players were active for the start of preseason camp in August, Stoops once again kept them out of practice after charges were laid, saying he was waiting to see if the police department had rounded up additional evidence that would change the student’s conclusion. proceed to the hearing.
According to academic documents provided to the Courier Journal as part of an open case request, eight Kentucky students in attendance at the March 6 party were charged with violation of student conduct for “prejudice and threat of prejudice.” . Three students were found responsible for this violation, but the names were redacted from student conduct reports.
Other students have been found responsible for violating the university’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, which hosted the party, has been placed on probation for non-compliance, hazing, alcohol abuse and violation of COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Tisdale’s family shared a copy of their driving report with BBN Tonight, a show on LEX-TV in Lexington that is produced by the university’s media marketing rights partner, JMI Sports. The report confirmed that Tisdale was one of the students found responsible for “harm and threat of harm,” but it also concluded that “there was no preponderance of evidence to say for sure that (Tisdale) had gun”.
Olivia Tutt, a student from Kentucky and one of 10 revelers listed as victims in a Lexington Police Department investigation report, told the Courier Journal that she felt university administrators were “more concerned by the fact that people drank that the girls were beaten “.
Tutt says she was punched twice – once on the right arm, once on the hip – by Phillips.
Phillips’ attorney, Charles Grundy, told the Courier Journal that his client “hadn’t even arrived at the scene before it was all over,” that he carried no weapons, hit no one and that his case “should obviously be closed”. Libby Hogan, the university’s assistant director of student conduct, came to a similar conclusion after meeting the player, informing Phillips in a letter dated April 23 provided to the Courier Journal by Phillips’ father that he would not be not responsible for any violation of the code. and that witnesses had confirmed “that they had not seen him fighting”.
Tutt said she identified Phillips by matching his face to photos found online by friends after the fight.
Players took to social media after the dropping of charges to celebrate their return to the squad.
“The truth will always find its way,” McClain posted on Instagram. “Now let’s go to the ball. “
“I’m glad the truth has finally come out because my fabricated charges have been dropped,” Adams posted on twitter. “I thank my family and friends who have supported me so far. I am delighted to be back on the pitch.”
Courier Journal reporter Tim Sullivan contributed to this story.
Email Jon Hale at [email protected]; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.