Two Texas wide receivers are suspended from the football program indefinitely after they were arrested Thursday and charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony.
Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were booked in Travis County and released on a personal recognizance bond. Sanders also was charged with improper photography. A court date will be set in a few weeks.
A student judicial review, which is seperate from the police investigation, should wrap up within a couple of weeks.
University police launched an investigation on the morning of June 21 into an accusation that Sanders and Meander assaulted a female student in Meander’s campus dorm room at San Jacinto Hall. Meander and the woman had consensual sex before Sanders entered the room and allegedly began assaulting her. Meander allegedly joined in the assault.
Texas coach Charlie Strong, whose five core values for the program include treating women with respect, released a statement saying he has suspended Sanders and Meander from the program indefinitely. Sanders and Meander are no longer listed on the team’s online roster and have been kicked out of their dorm rooms. Texas opens preseason practices Aug. 4.
UT president Bill Powers released a statement speaking out against sexual assault and commending the decision of Strong and the investigation by university police.
UTPD chief of police David Carter held a press conference in which he revealed that investigators had confiscated Meander’s and Sanders’ cell phones through a search warrant. Carter would not reveal what, if any, evidence was taken from the phones. The police department has the capability, if needed, to obtain deleted data through forensic analysis.
Sanders, a junior from Athens, Texas, caught 37 passes for 361 yards and one touchdown last season. Meander, of Amarillo, Texas, sat out last season redshirting as a freshman.
2 p.m. updated: David Carter, chief of the university police department, held a press conference Thursday afternoon. Some of Carter’s key points:
- Carter says some surveys suggest one in five female students are sexually assaulted while in college. The cases involving Montel Meander and Kendall Sanders are the second and third assaults at Texas in 2014. Carter would not say if the other case involved a Texas athlete.
- The investigation took a month because investigators had to wade through contradictory statements and procure physical evidence. One month is actually pretty quick to wrap up an investigation with these complications, Carter said. Carter said the case is solid.
- Carter says he obtained Meander’s and Sanders’ phones through a search warrant. He would not say what, if any, evidence was taken from the phones.
- Sanders and Meander were cooperative with police initially but then invoked their right to remain silent. The suspects were interviewed the night of the incident and invoked their rights within a day or so.
- Carter wouldn’t say if the victim is still enrolled at Texas.
- Another student called 911 the night of the incident and eventually turned over the phone to the victim to speak with the dispatcher.
- Carter said “absolutely not” when asked if the investigation was conducted differently given the suspects are football players rather than traditional students. He said his department did not share information with the athletic department. Carter notified athletic director Steve Patterson this morning that he had warrants out for Meander and Sanders. The reason a press conference was held is because of great media interest.
- Carter would not say if Meander had sex with the victim prior to the night of the alleged assault.
Noon updated: Both Meander and Sanders have been released on a personal recognizance bond, which is standard in Travis County. A court date will be set in a few weeks.
11:35 a.m. updated: Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders are currently at central booking at the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex. They are being fingerprinted and their mugshots are being taken. Both Meander and Sanders are accompanied by what appear to be their attorneys.
11:13 a.m. updated: UT police chief David Carter confirms that both Sanders and Meander have been arrested. Carter said he spoke with Texas athletic director Steve Patterson and football coach Charlie Strong and “they were nothing but cooperative.” Carter said he notified Patterson this morning that the players would be arrested Thursday.
“It really doesn’t matter what’s involved and how much external scrutiny there is, we just need to make sure that we’re doing our jobs right,” Carter said. “I fully believe that’s occurred in this case.”
11:09 a.m. updated: Texas president Bill Powers releases a statement saying an internal judicial review is underway:
“The university campus must be an environment free from all sexual assault and violence.
“At The University of Texas at Austin, student safety is our top priority and we are involved with the national efforts to prevent a culture of sexual violence from taking root on campuses. We educate all of our students about preventing sexual assault and vigorously investigate all allegations so we can take the appropriate action.
“In response to recent allegations of sexual violence on campus, UT police has filed criminal charges against two student athletes, the football team has suspended them and an internal student judicial review is under way. I commend Chief Carter for conducting a fair and thorough investigation and Coach Strong for making a decision that is in the best interest of his team and the university.
“We encourage everyone to respect both the criminal and administrative review processes as they continue.”
10:55 a.m. update: Charlie Strong said this week he would suspend the two players being investigated for sexual assault if they were criminally charged. Texas’ coach followed through on that promise Thursday, suspending receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander indefinitely from the team. The two were charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony, on Thursday morning for their involvement in an incident last month at San Jacinto dorm on the UT campus.
Here’s Strong’s full statement:
“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.”
10:15 a.m. update: Updates include comments from Kendall Sanders’ attorney, actual details from police documents. A source familiar with the investigation told the American-Statesman both players are to be arrested today.
Earlier: University of Texas football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony, on Thursday for an incident in the early morning of June 21, the American-Statesman has learned.
Sanders is also facing an additional charge of improper photography.
It’s unclear when both Sanders and Meander will be arrested, but bail has been set at $75,000 for both players. Sanders has an additional $20,000 bail for the improper photography charge.
“It’s a shame that a mere allegation can effect a young man’s life to the extent this will,” said Austin attorney Brian Roark, who represents Sanders. “He is innocent though and eventually, that will be proven.”
Montrel Meander’s attorney, Dallas-based Rickey Jones, has not returned phone calls from the Statesman.
According to court documents obtained by the American-Statesman, UT police officers found the victim under a desk crying. She was barefoot and had disheveled hair.
The alleged victim told police she came back from Sixth Street and agreed to engage consensual sex with Menader, according to court documents. Then, Sanders knocked on the door and was allowed in by Meander.
Sanders began taking off his clothes while Meander went into the bathroom, and the alleged victim said she did not want to have sex with him, the court documents state. Sanders got in bed anyway and forced himself on the alleged victim.
“Sanders told the victim she would like it and that it is going to feel good,” the affidavit states. The documents go into graphic detail how Sanders had sex with the alleged victim, which included vaginal and anal intercouse.
At some point, Meander came back into the room and the two players “forcibly penetrated the victim” together. At that point, the alleged victim said she no longer wanted to have sex with Meander.
Then, according to the documents, the alleged victim saw a camera flash and suspected she was begin recorded. The alleged victim dressed and left the room crying.
UT police records show that a sexual assault was reported at 3:43 a.m. that night. UT police arrived at the dorm and began interviewing potential witnesses, including Sanders and Meander.
Texas athletic officials were aware of a possible incident, and it was initially reported by the American Statesman on June 22. At that time, the Statesman did not name the players as they were simply being questioned by UT police.
“All three individuals involved knew each other, and the two suspects have been cooperating with the investigation,” UT police said initially in its daily report distributed campus wide.
Athletic officials have a policy of not making any comments on legal proceedings until athletes are arrested or formally charged.
Texas coach Charlie Strong told the American-Statesman that both players would be suspended if charges were filed.
Sanders, a junior from Athens, has played in 23 career games and started seven last year. He made 37 receptions for 361 yards and one touchdown. Meander is a redshirt freshman from Amarillo who did not play last season.
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