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Charges dropped for high school sports star accused of rape

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Prosecutors have dropped all charges against a two-sport star at a suburban Pittsburgh high school who had been accused of raping a 17-year-old girl.

Michael Berquist, an assistant district attorney for Allegheny County, told a Common Pleas judge on Wednesday that the girl and her mother no longer wanted to press charges against 18-year-old Ross Wilkerson.

''They want to move on with their lives,'' he said.

Prosecutors and Scott Township police had claimed Wilkerson sent the girl a Snapchat message March 1 asking her to come to a pool house behind his home because he had a gift for her. Once there, they had said, Wilkerson forced the girl into a closet and raped her.

The girl testified during the preliminary hearing about three weeks later that Wilkerson had bloodshot eyes and talked about how he and a friend, who was on a couch in the next room, had been drinking. She testified she repeatedly told Wilkerson ''no,'' but he overpowered her, and the friend didn't answer when she called for him to help.

But Wilkerson's attorneys, Michael and Michele Santicola, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that text messages, social media posts and other information they found made it impossible for authorities to move forward with the prosecution.

''The way it was described in the affidavit, the way the police investigated and filed, it was simply untrue,'' Michael Santicola said. ''She told us this was a violent rape and we knew that was completely false.'' Wilkerson always contended the sex was consensual, they said.

The district attorney's office wouldn't respond to Santicola's comments.

Wilkerson was the leading scorer for Chartiers Valley High School's basketball team and also stars on the baseball team.

John Carroll University had offered him a baseball scholarship before his March arrest. The defense attorneys were hopeful Wilkerson might still attend college and play baseball there, as they plan to have his arrest record expunged.

''It's terrible. Ross was taken out of school in handcuffs. He missed a lot of his senior year. He missed the end of his senior basketball season,'' Santicola said. ''You can't unring a bell.''