Former Saint Louis University basketball star Willie Reed is providing details for the first time about the sexual encounter that led to his suspension from the university, along with teammate Kwamain Mitchell.
Daily RFT was not able to verify Reed's account. Police have refused to release their report on the incident, and the lawyer for the alleged victim hasn't returned calls for comment.
But in a phone interview earlier this week, Reed proclaimed his innocence and stated that he never actually had any sexual contact with the victim, even of a consensual nature. "I didn't touch her at all," he says. He added later, "I just want to get my name cleared."
By Reed's account, in fact, his only "crime" was being in a room in the same apartment -- and briefly interrupting -- the alleged victim as she had sex with two of his teammates.
He also spoke of a campus judiciary that he believes considered him guilty from the beginning, even as police declined to take action on the woman's claim.
The scandal erupted last week, when -- following the completion of the campus judiciary process -- Saint Louis University issued a brief statement saying that Reed and Mitchell were "currently not enrolled at the University." Citing student privacy law, the school offered no further details and refused to explain their absence.
In the days that followed, it became clear that Mitchell and Reed were among three Billiken basketball players involved in an alleged sexual assault that occurred May 1, 2010 in an on-campus apartment.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce told reporters that there was "insufficient evidence for us to bring charges" against the players. But Joyce noted that the prosecutors' sex crimes unit considers the case "under advisement," meaning that charges could still be filed pending further investigation. Because the case remains open, a police report narrative is not yet public record. Responding to a Sunshine Request, St. Louis Metropolitan Police provided Daily RFT with a heavily redacted incident report (see pdf below) that revealed only the time and place the incident occurred.
Earlier this week, however, Reed agreed to an exclusive interview with Daily RFT. Speaking on the phone from his family's home in Kansas City, Reed describes how he met the alleged victim (whose name is being withheld by Daily RFT) a week prior to the incident at the Laclede Street Bar and Grill near the SLU campus.
A week later, around 3 a.m. May 1, they were back at the same bar.
"She came up to me and said my name and said, 'Do you remember me?'" Reed says. Reed didn't, but his teammate, Mitchell did.
So when the bar closed for the night just minutes later, the woman left with Reed and Mitchell, along with two female students.
When they got to a teammate's apartment at 3423 Laclede Avenue, the basketball players and the alleged victim entered, but for whatever reason, the other two women decided not to come in.
Inside the apartment, two other basketball players -- who Daily RFT is not naming -- were hanging out. One left shortly thereafter, but the second, a freshman, stayed. "He was at the house we were headed to -- no one knew he was there," Reed says."Then he stayed once he seen Kwamain and her go in the bedroom."
When Mitchell walked out of the bedroom a few minutes later, the freshman walked in.
"I was on the couch watching a rerun of the Lakers-Thunder game," Reed recounts. "I wasn't in the room while they were having sex. I just came in at the last minute...I seen what was going on and left. Like, five minutes later she came out. I didn't touch her at all."
Asked if he saw any signs of a struggle, Reed responds with an emphatic "No."
"When I walked in and saw her and [the freshman], she didn't seem like she was saying no," Reed says. "She was just sending the text message. She was actually involved in texting it...She sent a text message while she was having sex with [the freshman], to a guy named Nick, which is I guess her boyfriend at the time.
"She didn't see me at all -- the room was dark," Reed notes.
"I don't know why she would do it, honestly," he continues. "She was intoxicated. That could be a problem...But why she would say she was being raped, that's something I don't know."
Reed says the entire incident lasted 30 minutes at the most. He recalls the woman leaving almost immediately afterward, without saying a word to him or Mitchell.
After that, she apparently flagged down an ambulance that was parked on campus.
"There's always an EMS ambulance [there] late at night," Reed says. "She walked up to it and they called the RA and they called campus security. The police came, and when they came they arrested us and read us our rights. They just questioned and tried to get the info and then they let us go seven or eight hours later. We didn't get fingerprinted or anything like that. We were in the holding cell the entire time."
Reed claims that neither he nor Mitchell had been drinking that night. He alleges that the police report states that the woman "had been drinking vodka. It said she had four cups or shots between 11 and 2 [a.m.]" (Reed, who has no attorney, told Daily RFT that he couldn't provide the police report to verify that allegation because he doesn't have a copy.)
David Korum, the attorney for the alleged victim, did not return phone calls from Daily RFT asking for a response to Reed's version of events.
Asked about Reed's story, Mitchell's attorney, John Rodgers, says, "I'm not going to do anything that confirms or denies any of the allegations from that evening.
"Kwamian Mitchell has done nothing that warrants criminal prosecution," Rodgers adds. "[The woman's] story has been completely inconsistent and unbelievable. Saint Louis University, when they conducted their own internal investigation, did not substantiate any of her allegations of sexual assault. Kwamain's suspension had nothing to do with an internal SLU investigation dealing with allegations of sexual assault."
The freshman, the second teammate who allegedly had a sexual encounter with the woman, transferred to another university earlier this year. He did not respond to a message requesting an interview.
Reed says he took summer school classes at SLU even after the arrest. He and Mitchell continued to practice with the team and live on campus.
Then, in September, they were called before the school's "student conduct committee."
"It was a couple months before we even got notified by the school that anything was going to happen," Reed says. "The coaches told us we might miss some games, that they might make us miss some games, we were aware of that. Once they told us that, I felt like, wow, the school didn't look into anything. It wasn't like 'prove yourself innocent,' it was a more likely than not scenario."
It is SLU's policy that "even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the university can pursue disciplinary action." In the case of Reed and Mitchell, the conduct committee recommended a one-year suspension, which the school's administration reduced on appeal.
"They said I was taller than her, and because of that I intimidated her," Reed says. "They gave me 'improper conduct as a student' because I did nothing to help."
Mitchell's attorney says his client has "been invited to reapply for admission" in January and "it is quite possible he will in fact reapply."
Reed, on the other hand, says he will transfer to another program. (He has expressed interest in Kansas State but he wouldn't name any of the potential programs to Daily RFT.) Reed will likely be sought after by college coaches; a six-foot-nine-inch power forward, he led the Billikens in blocks and rebounds last year, was second on the team in scoring and is projected as a first round pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Reed says he decided to leave when the school asked him to write a letter of apology to his accuser.
"I wouldn't do it, because I don't feel I should apologize for something I didn't do," Reed says. "When they did that, I decided I can go to a different school, get a fresh start. That's just what I was thinking.... I probably would have stayed [if I didn't have to do the apology]. I would have sat down and talked to my family to see how they felt, but yeah, I think I would have stayed."
"I just want to get my name cleared," Reed concludes. "I didn't want anybody think anything bad. I'm the same person people thought I was -- both on and off the court."