Grand jury: Ex-L'ville player Chris Jones cleared of charges

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Two months after his arrest on allegations of sexually assaulting two women at an off-campus apartment party, former Louisville basketball player Chris Jones and two other men were cleared Wednesday of rape and sodomy charges by a grand jury.

Jones was facing two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy. The two other men, 21-year-old Jalen Tilford and 19-year-old Tyvon Walker, were charged with sexually assaulting one of the women. Those two men also were cleared of rape and sodomy charges.

Scott Drabenstadt, an attorney for Tilford, said Wednesday that surveillance video seen by the grand jury showed the two women, ages 19 and 20, "frolicking in the stairs and in the hallway" after the alleged incidents. The video from the apartment complex, near campus, shows the women arriving, leaving the party, returning and leaving again.

"And this is after they were supposedly, one of them raped by three men and the other raped by Chris Jones. Just ridiculous. Thank God that video existed," Drabenstadt said.

Jones, a senior, was kicked off the basketball team for violating curfew a day after scoring 17 points in a 55-53 win over Miami. The party where the alleged incident occurred was held Feb. 22, the day after the Miami game. Jones and the other men were charged in the case a few days later.

Dina Bartlett, an attorney for the women, said she was disappointed in the grand jury's decision. She said the women were "heinously assaulted." Bartlett has maintained that Jones was given special treatment because he was a basketball player.

Prosecutors said extensive evidence was presented to the grand jury. Tilford told police in a statement that he "never thought anything was wrong" after the girls left. A few minutes later, he said one of the women was cursing at Jones in the hallway but then calmed down and returned to the party.

Jones was released from home incarceration earlier this month as prosecutors prepared to present the case to the grand jury.

Jones' attorney, Scott Cox, left after the hearing without commenting. He had maintained that Jones was falsely accused.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said he was "blindsided" by the allegations. He said that his problems with Jones revolved around "sulking, emotional outbursts in practice" but that he always was on time and worked hard.