LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday chose not to indict a former University of Louisville basketball player and two co-defendants on any charges in a rape case.
The grand jury issued a "no true bill" against former U of L player Chris Jones, Jalen D. Tilford and Tyvon Walker after two days of deliberations. Jones was charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy. Tilford and Walker were both charged with rape. The complaints filed against those two men indicated three people were
on Feb. 22.
Attorneys for Jones told reporters that his client was "extraordinarily relieved" and "reduced to tears" after hearing the grand jury's decision.
"Police never should have charged Jones," said attorney Scott C. Cox, adding that his celebrity worked against him. "If Chris Jones' name was John Smith, it's likely" no charges would have been filed. He said the proof in the case was "100 percent exculpatory" for Jones.
Cox said Jones was projected to be a second-round NBA pick before the alleged incident occurred and barred from being on campus, where he had lived for two years. Now he is playing pick-up basketball in the park.
"This has been a horrible experience for him," said Cox who added that he also "felt terrible" for the alleged victims.
Cox said Jones wants to graduate and focus on making a getting back in shape to play professional basketball, likely going to Florida to train. He eventually would like to settle down in Louisville, Cox said.
Asked why Tilford told police that Jones had blood on his shirt that night, Cox declined to comment on the evidence. Cox defended Jones' character, saying his only crime in this case was to break curfew that night.
"Chris Jones is not a creep," Cox said. "Chris Jones is a gentleman. ... He's a good kid."
Dina Bartlett, an attorney for the alleged victims, said she was disappointed with the grand jury's decision.
"I am very disappointed in what happened to my clients," she said, adding that there was "overwhelming evidence" that Jones received special treatment.
She said no decision has yet been made on whether the women will file a civil lawsuit, and they will not be making a statement to the media.
Scott Drabenstadt, an attorney for Tilford, said that his client's name has been "forever smeared" by "false accusations."
"This has been ridiculous from the get-go," he said, though he understood why police filed charges given the claims by the two women.
He added that surveillance video from the hallway of the apartment complex where victims claimed they'd been raped shows the women "giggling" and playful after the alleged crime.
"The three fellas ran into the wrong women, that's it," Drabenstadt said. "...Thank God that video existed."
Drabenstadt also aimed criticism at the three defendants -- including his own client -- saying that the were not the kind of men a young woman would want to take home to meet her parents.
The men may be "creeps, but they are not criminals."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ryane Conroy declined to comment on whether she felt the grand jury made the right decision, but admitted that, "I can see the case from both sides."
Conroy said she did not make a recommendation to the grand jury on whether to indict or not.
The only way to show the case was handled fairly and Jones didn't get special treatment is to release all the evidence, Conroy said. She added that, if the alleged victims want evidence in case released, she will ask judge to release it.
Conroy said it was important for grand jury to look at all evidence in this case.
"We wanted the grand jury's opinion," she said. "They gave it."
The alleged incident occurred at the Cardinal Towne Apartment Complex, which is not operated by U of L.
The attorneys for two alleged victims, Will Walsh and Dina Bartlett, have repeatedly complained that Jones has been given preferential treatment, including being released from home incarceration without the victims being properly notified.
But Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said last week that the case was being handled properly and "there has not been, nor will there be, any special procedures or accommodations made for these defendants or their attorneys."
Cox had predicted the grand jury would dismiss the case after hearing all of the evidence, including from witnesses at the party the night of the alleged rapes who would support Jones' innocence.
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