Former Tennessee football player Drae Bowles alleged in a lawsuit filing that head coach Butch Jones called him a "traitor" for helping a woman who was allegedly raped by two Tennessee players, according to the Tennessean. The allegation is from a filing made on Wednesday in the Title IX case against the University of Tennessee. Jones later called Bowles back to apologize, but this is the latest addition to an extremely ugly story in Knoxville.
Late Wednesday, Jones released a statement denying the claim.
The suit, filed by six female Tennessee students against the school, alleges they were sexually assaulted by five current and former UT athletes, including multiple members of the football team. Bowles reportedly helped one of the victims get help after being raped by teammates A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams, which in turn made Bowles the victim of two separate attacks by teammates as retribution.
Plaintiff Doe IV received a message from Plaintiff Doe V who was witnessing (at that moment) several football players "jumping" Drae Bowles, a member of the football team that had actually taken Plaintiff Doe IV to the hospital the night of her assault and who had supported her decision to report the incident to the authorities.
Plaintiff Doe IV informed Gilbert, Ward and the head coach at that time and even provided the identities of the players, but was told only "we'll look into it."
Plaintiff Doe IV later understood that athletic coaches were present during that altercation but has never been informed of any action was ever taken against the players in reference to that incident.
Days later, Plaintiff Doe IV became aware of a second assault on Drae Bowles in the team facility by the same football players.
Johnson and Williams have both been charged with rape and are awaiting trial this summer. Two other football players, Riyahd Jones and a currently unnamed player, have been accused in the suit, as well as former men's basketball player Yemi Makanjuola. Bowles has since transferred to Chattanooga.
Following these serious and extremely troubling allegations, each of the university's 16 varsity head coaches came together to give a press conference on Tuesday. The lawsuit contends the university athletic department has a "hostile sexual environment," but the coaches went on at length about how positive things are around Tennessee athletics. The press conference was widely panned as tone-deaf, and failed to address any substantive issues. In one egregious example, Jones expressed concern that Tennessee's rivals were using the lawsuit against them.
Athletic director Dave Hart, who was not at the press conference on Tuesday, is scheduled to hold his own press conference on Thursday afternoon.