Report: Victim accuses Johnson, Williams of forcible rape

The Knoxville Police Department released a report Tuesday afternoon that names two UT football players as suspects in a rape case. 11-18-14

A Knoxville Police Department incident report lists Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams as suspects named in a forcible rape case.

You can read the report here. Information identifying the victims has been redacted by WBIR.

Knoxville police said the incident happened at the Woodlands Apartment complex on Cherokee Woods Way early Sunday morning.

One of the 19-year-old women listed in the incident report accused Johnson and Williams of forcible rape. Officers said the victim is a University of Tennessee student.

A second 19-year-old woman, also listed in the incident report, claimed Williams sexually assaulted her. Knoxville police said the second victim was from Florida and was in Knoxville visiting a friend. Police told WBIR 10News on Monday that the victim from Florida has decided not to press any charges at this time and has since returned home.

Crews took both women to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where they were interviewed.

Investigators conducted a search warrant on the Woodlands apartment on Sunday night.

Johnson and Williams haven't been charged at this time. The district attorney general's office is reviewing the case to determine whether any charges will be filed.

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At 4 p.m. Monday, the UT Athletic Department's official Twitter account announced that A.J. Johnson, a senior, and Michael Williams, a sophomore, were suspended from all team-related activities.

Coach Butch Jones said he's aware of the incident during a press conference on Monday.

"Right now in the process of gathering all information," said Jones. "Once we have all that appropriate information we will act in a very decisive matter which we have proven over time to do here at the University of Tennessee."

Jones said he wasn't going to comment any further at this time.

This isn't Johnson's first run-in with the law. The senior linebacker was arrested in February for buying alcohol for people under 21 and resisting arrest. A judge later dropped those charges as part of plea agreement that Johnson would stay out of trouble for 90 days.

Johnson is a strong-team leader for the Vols and has played for four seasons.

Difference between charges of rape and sexual assault

The case involves charges of both sexual assault and rape.

WBIR 10News caught up with a defense attorney who explains the difference between the two and why the investigation and court process could take longer than normal.

"Aggravated rape is a class A felony as defined by Tennessee law. It contains some very harsh, mandatory penitentiary time," said James A. H. Bell, attorney at law.

Bell said there must be evidence of unlawful sexual penetration for a suspect to be charged with rape. Without proving that, the person can be charged with sexual battery. Both are felonies and can involve a lengthy court process.

"When you have an actual rape charge, don't overlook the fact that you will have a lot more forensics such as semen, or DNA, and that type of thing," Bell said.

Waiting for DNA evidence can also add to a longer investigation.

"One of course is the forensics side of it," Bell explained. "The TBI crime lab does a great job. They've hired some good people but they are processing cases in their lab throughout the entire state. So they get backed up."

There are a number of defenses the accused could use.

"The first one is obvious. I didn't do it or someone else did it but it wasn't me," said Bell. "Or I have an alibi which means I was elsewhere when the crime was committed. Or that there was consent."

UT fans disappointed with suspensions

The news of these allegations has stirred up conversation around Big Orange Nation. It was the main topic of conversation around campus.

"I had only two classes and I already heard a bunch about it," said UT student Stephen Rolfes.

Fans are disappointed by the news for a couple of reasons. It hurts the team, and if true, it is a very serious act with serious repercussions.

"I think if these allegations are true, AJ Johnson would have a heck of a price to pay. Because he is five months away from the NFL draft and that's where he can become a millionaire," said radio host and analyst Dave Hooker.

This is the second time that AJ Johnson has been in the news for something other than football this year.

"I was one of the ones who advocated that some of these players should have been suspended for the fight and resisting arrest in January. I don't know that it would have changed anything, but maybe moving forward Butch Jones does use playing time because I think it is the quickest way to get a player's attention," said Hooker about Johnson's run in with the law months ago.

Hooker is confident that in due time, Coach Jones will be able to handle this issue.

Callers weigh in on alligations

During "The Drive" on 94.3 Knox Talk Radio Monday, the conversation planned at the start of the day was UT's win against UK. Instead, it was over the allegations of sexual assault.

"It's a very serious allegation, first and foremost," said host Russell Smith. "Then you have a UT football player who's connected with it, it's going to be a very big story."

Several callers, some under alas like "Beano" and "Paisan," gave their two cents over the allegations.

"No matter what happens, there are no winners here," said one caller. "Either way, it's a bad situation."

"This thing is not going to be over next week or two," said another caller. "I just hope Butch handles it right, guys."

A third caller: "The girl that went back to Florida that was sexually assaulted, but doesn't want to press charges?"

Smith said while these allegations and suspensions are serious, he said it shows how UT fans have seen highs and lows this year.

"I think fans have become almost paranoid whenever something good happens, they're cautiously optimistic," he added.


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