Ex-Louisville basketball player cleared of rape charge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Former University of Louisville star player Chris Jones is hoping to resurrect his basketball career after he was cleared of allegations that he sexually assaulted two women at a party near campus.

A grand jury in Louisville declined Wednesday to indict the sharp-shooting guard on rape and sodomy charges stemming from the Feb. 22 incident. Two other men were also cleared of those allegations by a grand jury.

Jones, a senior, had been kicked off the nationally ranked Louisville basketball team for missing curfew a day before the allegations surfaced.

With the accusations now out of the way, Jones is hoping to get his basketball career back on track, his attorney told reporters after the grand jury announced its decision. Since his arrest, Jones has said he has stayed sharp by playing pickup basketball games in parks.

''He really wants to go back and finish his degree, and see if he can potentially make a living playing basketball,'' attorney Scott Cox told reporters Wednesday.

Cox said Jones wants to pursue a professional career but didn't elaborate on where he might seek to play. The lawyer didn't return telephone messages left afterward by The Associated Press.

Jones was facing two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy. Two other men, 21-year-old Jalen Tilford and 19-year-old Tyvon Walker, were charged with sexually assaulting one of the women. They were also were cleared of rape and sodomy charges Wednesday.

Cox has maintained that his client was wrongfully accused.

A surveillance video seen by the grand jury showed the two women, ages 19 and 20, ''frolicking in the stairs and in the hallway'' after the alleged incidents, said Tilford's attorney, Scott Drabenstadt. The video from the apartment complex shows the women arriving, leaving the party, returning and leaving again.

''And this is after they were supposedly, one of them raped by three men and the other raped by Chris Jones. Just ridiculous. Thank God that video existed,'' Drabenstadt said.

Jones was kicked off the basketball team a day after leading them to a 55-53 victory over conference rival Miami. The party where the alleged incident occurred was held the day after the game. Jones and the other men were charged in the case a few days later.

Dina Bartlett, an attorney for the women, said she was disappointed in the grand jury's decision. She said the women were ''heinously assaulted.'' Bartlett has maintained that Jones was given special treatment because he was a basketball player.

Tilford told police in a statement that he ''never thought anything was wrong'' after the girls left, according to a written statement distributed by his attorney. A few minutes later, he said one of the women was cursing at Jones in the hallway but then calmed down and returned to the party.

Jones was released from home incarceration earlier this month.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said he was ''blindsided'' by the allegations. He said his problems with Jones revolved around ''sulking, emotional outbursts in practice'' but that the player was always on time and worked hard.

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