Former Cornhuskers Facing Sexual-Assault-Related Charges; Title IX Attorney, Cari Simon Hired

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Paula Lavigne

Two former Nebraska football players were arrested Tuesday and are facing felony charges in connection with a report of a sexual assault, less than a week after a university investigation determined that they violated sexual misconduct policies.

Redshirt freshman Katerian LeGrone was booked on a charge of first-degree sexual assault, and redshirt freshman Andre Hunt was booked on a charge of first-degree aiding and abetting sexual assault, Lincoln Police Captain Duane Winkler told Outside the Lines on Tuesday.

Hunt and LeGrone have been named in additional police reports of alleged sex offenses filed within the past week, according to records obtained by Outside the Lines on Wednesday and a source familiar with those records. The reports include an August 2018 report of alleged rape naming LeGrone and another player, and a September 2018 alleged rape naming LeGrone; a February 2019 alleged rape naming Hunt; two April 2019 reports of alleged sexual molestation/fondling filed by two separate women naming both men; and an alleged rape naming both men that occurred between Aug. 18, 2018, and Oct. 31, 2018, according to the records and the source familiar. All of the reports were made to police since Friday, and charges have not been filed in any of them, according to the records.

Sources familiar with the April 2019 alleged assault say that it had been reported, by a third party, to the university’s Title IX office the same month. A university spokeswoman said the school cannot comment on Title IX investigations, and it’s unknown how much information university officials had about any of the other alleged assaults reported to police.

“The university takes these matters very seriously,” the school said in a statement. “When a complaint is reported by a potential victim, or if a third party reports a claim with the potential victim’s name, it is always looked into.”

Outside the Lines reported last week that a university investigation found that the “greater weight of the evidence” supported that the two men “engaged in sexual assault and sexual harassment, in violation of university sexual misconduct policies” on Aug. 25 at their off-campus apartment. They were suspended indefinitely from the football team on Aug. 26, and they face a two-and-a-half-year suspension from the university. The school said Wednesday that the players are no longer on the roster.

Both men’s attorneys said they have appealed the school’s determination and that their clients did nothing wrong. Both men have also entered the transfer portal, signaling their desire to transfer and allowing for other programs to contact them.

LeGrone’s attorney, Kaz Long, said the timing of the charges, coming shortly after media coverage of the university investigation, was “suspect” considering that the initial report was made more than three months ago.

“The fact the police and county attorney have waited this long to act on a rape allegation is, quite frankly, disturbing,” he said. “If they believe it’s true, then why did they wait so long? If they didn’t believe it to be true, why are they waiting to charge it now?”

Attorney Carlos A. Monzon, who represents Hunt, said it was his “guess” that university officials put pressure on the county attorney’s office to pursue charges after they “found themselves in a position where they could be sued and in a position where they know they have violated this young man’s civil rights.”

A spokeswoman for the university declined to comment.

A female student reported an incident to the Lincoln Police Department the night the alleged incident happened, according to Nebraska’s findings and a police report obtained by Outside the Lines last week. The police report notes only that a rape was reported at an off-campus apartment on the evening of Aug. 25.

In reaction to the news of the arrests, the woman said in a statement to Outside the Lines, “The last thing I was expecting when I got the call was good news because this has been a roller coaster from the start. I was expecting the worst possible thing to happen, and I was just in complete shock and started crying.” She added that she is just hoping for justice. She has hired Title IX attorney Cari Simon.

The university investigation’s findings, according to the report, included that the evidence supported that Hunt touched and digitally penetrated the woman and made her have oral sex without her consent, and that both men had sex with her without her consent. The report states that the woman provided text messages with others, sent “immediately” following the actions, in which she alleged that she had been raped.

Findings of sexual misconduct at Nebraska, and at many universities, are based on a preponderance of evidence, which means the weight of the evidence favors one side over the other. It is a lower burden of proof than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed to convict someone in a criminal case.

During a Lincoln Police Department media briefing Wednesday, Officer Luke Bonkiewicz did not directly answer a question about other possible victims related to the case in which Hunt and LeGrone have been arrested, but he said that in any sexual assault case, “one of the investigative steps is to identify additional possible victims, and that investigative step is being taken in this case as well.”

He did not say why police waited more than three months to make arrests in the case, but he said that neither the results of the university’s Title IX investigation nor any other external factors influenced the decision and that it was “not uncommon” for sex assaults to take several months to investigate and lead to arrests.

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