Montana QB denies rape charge
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP)
Suspended University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to raping a woman earlier this year after she invited him to her room to watch a movie.
Johnson entered his plea during an appearance before Judge Karen Townsend in Missoula on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.
Johnson was released on his own recognizance after being fingerprinted and booked, which is "pretty standard practice" for a defendant who appeared voluntarily in response to a summons, Assistant Chief Deputy Missoula County Prosecutor Suzy Boylan said.
Townsend granted a request for Johnson to travel home to the Eugene, Ore., area before he begins the fall semester at the University of Montana.
His attorney, Dave Paoli, declined to comment. Another defense attorney, Kirsten Pabst, filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the charge against Johnson.
Pabst accused state prosecutors of using the case against Johnson to "try to send a message" that they were taking a hard stance against the numerous sexual assault allegations at the university that have put the school and city under intense scrutiny.
A university investigation earlier this year found nine allegations of sexual assault that had gone unreported over 18 months, and two others have surfaced since then. It is unclear how many involve student athletes.
The Justice Department and Education Department are investigating the university and the city's response to reports of sexual assault on campus and in Missoula. The NCAA also has launched an investigation, but the target is unclear.
Pabst, who previously was the chief deputy county prosecutor before entering private practice this spring, called Boylan's July 31 charging affidavit "incomplete, misleading and prejudicial." Pabst said the document violated Johnson's right to due process and she accused state prosecutors of misconduct by giving it to the press.
"Given the egregious facts of this case and the applicable rules of law, dismissal is the only appropriate and just remedy," Pabst said in the filing.
The alleged rape happened on Feb. 4, with the woman saying that Johnson forced himself on her after she repeatedly told him no, according to Boylan's affidavit. Pabst's filing says the sex was consensual and the woman never told him to stop.
Defense attorneys are seeking text messages between students and university administrators involved in the investigation. Boylan said she is working her way through 1,000 pages of text messages between students and university administrators involved in the investigation, and that she hopes to be finished with the review within two weeks.
She declined to comment further on the case or the defense attorney's accusations.
The next court date has been set for Aug. 21.