University of Montana News

Aug 1, 2012 11:51 AM by KPAX News Staff

UM reacts to QB Johnson being charged with rape

MISSOULA- University of Montana Quarterback Jordan Johnson is preparing for trial after news he's been charged with felony rape.

Prosecutors say Johnson and the alleged victim were watching a movie at her house on February 4th when the alleged incident occurred.

The victim told investigators Johnson forced himself on top of her, held her down and raped her. She also said she told Johnson "no" multiple times, but he didn't listen and added that she was afraid he would hit her if she resisted.

Johnson told investigators the sex was consensual.

He was supposed to lead the charge of the Montana Grizzlies football team this season as starting quarterback, but since Johnson has been charged with rape, everything changes.

Under the University of Montana's Student Athlete Conduct Code, that's an automatic suspension from all things Grizzly football.

"That's what we've done, I've notified Jordan and so he is suspended from the team at this point," UM interim Director of Athletics Jean Gee said Tuesday.

Gee broke the news to Johnson on the phone Tuesday evening. "He expected it. He knows what the student athlete conduct code contains and he expected it and knew that would be coming."

But the 20-year-old Johnson is still enrolled for fall semester and is scheduled to begin his junior year as a math major.

Felony charges alone don't necessarily mean a direct suspension or expulsion from school under the Student Conduct Code and while UM President Royce Engstrom said he must protect student confidentiality, he added that he and staff began immediately reviewing the matter.

But instead of suiting up for the season, Johnson will be waiting to see how his rape charges play out in court.

"It's not different than if we lose a player because he transfers. Whenever we lose a player, there are gonna be other players on the team that will step up and continue to make Griz fans proud," Gee concluded.

While Johnson is indefinitely suspended from the Griz team, Gee said it is possible he could request to be released and if UM agreed, than Johnson could be eligible to transfer to another program.

Johnson's attorney, David Paoli, promptly responded to the charges with a statement saying," Jordan and his family are surprised and saddened by the county's decision to levy a criminal charge now, given that the encounter between Jordan and the complainant occurred in early February and the police have been aware of the allegation since she filed a report six weeks later. Jordan strongly maintains his innocence and looks forward to the opportunity to prove his innocence at trial, clear his name, and return to pursuing his education."

Johnson will appear in court on August 14th.

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