AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two University of Texas football players were arrested and charged Thursday with felony sexual assault after a female student said she was raped in a campus dorm room last month.
Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were later released on personal recognizance bonds. According to an arrest affidavit, Sanders and Meander texted each other during earlier interviews with police to "get their story straight" and Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography tied to the alleged assault on June 21.
The arrests created the first program crisis for first-year Longhorns coach Charlie Strong, who will welcome his team to preseason training camp in two weeks.
Strong, who enjoyed a warm reception at the Big 12 media days earlier this week and spent several weeks last spring touring the state to build fan support, immediately suspended both players.
"We've been monitoring and addressing the situation with Kendall and Montrel since it was brought to our attention," Strong said in a statement released by the school. "It's been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values, and I'm extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that."
The sexual assault charges carry prison terms of two to 20 years.
"It's a shame that a mere allegation can affect a young man's life to the extent this will," said Sanders' attorney Brian Roark. "Kendall Sanders is innocent, though, and eventually, that will be proven."
According to arrest affidavits, the alleged victim knew both men for more than a year.
Police said they were called to the dorm at 3:43 a.m. and found the woman under an entryway service desk, crying, barefoot and disheveled. The women told police she had gone to Austin's Sixth Street entertainment district with friends and agreed to return to Meander's dorm where they began to have consensual sex.
Sanders then knocked on the door and Meander let him in, according to police. The woman said Meander went into the bathroom and that Sanders forced her to have vaginal and anal sex.
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