2 UT football players charged with sexual assault

AUSTIN, Texas Two University of Texas football players have been charged with sexual assault.

Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander are charged with sexual assault. Sanders is also facing an improper photography charge.

They were arrested Thursday morning but have since been released. Officials say the charges come from an incident in the early hours of June 21 at the San Jacinto Dormitory.

According to the warrants, the alleged victim knew Meander and Sanders for about a year before the alleged assault. She ran into Meander on Sixth Street on the night of June 20 and went back to his room in the San Jacinto dorm, where they had sex.

The warrant says Sanders came to Meander's dorm room, and when Meander went to the bathroom, Sanders began undressing. The alleged victim told police she told Sanders she didn't want to have sex with him, but he forced himself on her.

When Meander came back into the room, the two men continued assaulting her, the warrant says.

The alleged victim told police she saw a flash as if one of the men was trying to take a cell phone video or photo of her while the assault occurred. Detectives later found a photo of the alleged victim on Sanders' phone.

The victim said she asked to leave, and Sanders reportedly told her, You could leave after I'm done, the warrant states.

KVUE's partners at the Austin American-Statesman report the players asked the alleged victim if she was OK, and she told them she was.

During a press conference Thursday, UT police chief David Carter said the female student consented initially to having sex with Meander, but after Sanders arrived, she withdrew that consent.

Carter stressed that the investigation has not and will not be handled any differently because the suspects are football players.

Sanders, a rising junior from Athens, Texas and Meander, a sophomore wide receiver from Amarillo, have both been suspended from the UT football team indefinitely, according to UT coach Charlie Strong.

Strong released the following statement Wednesday morning:

We've been monitoring and addressing the situation with Kendall (Sanders) and Montrel (Meander) since it was brought to our attention. 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. With the recent charges against them, they have been suspended indefinitely from our football team and will no longer participate in any team functions.

Strong has known about the investigation for about a month, sources say. He said on Tuesday at Big 12 media days, Right now I don't suspend them, but they're taken away from the team. Not taken away, but separated from the team, so they kind of work out on their own.

KVUE reported in June that two football players were being questioned in the alleged assault, but UT police would not release their names at the time.

Earlier this week, Strong banned several football players from the locker room. Sanders and Meander are not part of that group. Strong said on Tuesday, Those are totally different players. He went on to say those players that have been banned were guilty of not going to class, not doing what I ask them to do, the little things.

When the news of the charges broke on Thursday, Quandre Diggs, a senior starter at defensive back, tweeted, It's a shame when people piss away great opportunities, God has given us all tremendous blessings.

On Thursday, UT men's athletic director sent an email to members of the Longhorn Foundation, the official fundraising arm of UT athletics, saying in part:

Today, Texas Athletics was notified two student-athletes were charged with sexual assault. At Texas Athletics, we hold all our student-athletes up to high standards. As such, we take situations like this very seriously. You are an important member of our community, and we wanted to communicate the situation with you as soon as possible.

Due to this being a pending legal matter, we cannot provide any more details.

According to the most recent UT security reports, 23 sexual offenses were reported on campus from 2010-2012. Twelve of those offenses occurred in on-campus residence halls. The same report says 74 sexual assaults were reported to UT during those three years.

Carter said research shows one in five women are sexually assaulted during their college years, but he said he's concerned that only one other sexual assault aside from this incident has been reported so far this year.

I am grateful that [the alleged victim] chose to reach out, Carter said. Many victims do not.

Carter also said the alleged victim chose to invoke the Jane Doe law, which allows her to use a pseudonym.

According to crime reporting website Krimelabb, 53 sexual assaults and 21 rapes have been reported this year in zip codes recognized by UT as main campus zip codes in the downtown area.

UT Student Judicial Services is also investigating.


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