New phone records show evidence of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones making contact with police and players in the early hours of Nov. 16 after a woman claimed that she was raped by a member of the football team, according to the Tennesseean.
The phone records support a timeline set by former player Drae Bowles. An investigation by authorities is part of a federal lawsuit by eight unnamed women against the University of Tennessee over their handling of sexual assaults by athletes.
Knoxville police chief David Rausch issued the following statement:
“When we investigate an alleged crime involving an athlete at UT, as a professional courtesy, our long standing practice has been that we alert the head Coach and staff. At no time is any information shared with the university that would hinder or jeopardize any investigation. The purpose of the notification is due to the scrutiny these events bring to allow appropriate time to prepare responses to the various interests. Our paramount concern at KPD is to the victims and their families and to assure them that we will utilize every resource available to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. That is our commitment to all citizens that we serve.”
The phone records, which were seen after a public records request, show that Jones stayed in contact with members of the football team and athletic director Dave Hart after the claims. The call logs showed the time, date and duration of calls.
Jones issued a statement that said he has multiple conversations with players and others when disciplinary issues are raised.
“Anytime we have a disciplinary issue with a player, we have as many conversations as needed with players, parents, law enforcement, whomever until we can be sure that we are making the best decision possible,” Jones said in his statement. “These are decisions that can be life-changing for these individuals. After taking into account all the information we could gather in this case, we made the decision to suspend two student-athletes from the team immediately.”
“Regarding the calls to Drae Bowles and his father, I care about Drae as a person and as a player and have frequent communications with players or their parents,” Jones added. “I am very comfortable with everything Drae, Mr. Bowles, and I discussed, and I wish him nothing but the very best. My intent was to support Drae and make sure he was ok. There’s nothing more important to me than the ultimate success in the life of our students.”
Bowles has sworn that he was helping a friend that was crying and hyperventilating. In the lawsuit, she states that she said that she was raped by players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams. Bowles helped her get home before she was taken to a local hospital.
Bowles then faced problems with his team when teammate Curt Maggitt allegedly punched him in the mouth. Bowles also called Jones, who said Bowles had “betrayed the team.” Jones called to apologize later on. Bowles and Jones called each other several times that night. Maggitt's attorney has denied that the player punched Bowles. Jones also made contact with Bowles’ father, Dexter Bowles, who is a captain in the local sheriff’s department.
Jones also went on to have contact with Knoxville Police Detective Sam Brown and chief Rausch. Jones also made six calls to Johnson on Nov. 16.
Johnson and Williams have been charged with sexually assaulting a female athlete in Johnson's off-campus home in November. They face separate trials in Knoxville on rape charges, which they have both plead not guilty to.