Gareon Conley was selected 24th overall on Thursday night of NFL’s draft by the Oakland Raiders, even after unresolved accusations of sexual assault came to light earlier in the week. Last week, he steadfastly maintained his innocence, but after statements from his attorney today, the case may not be so clear-cut as the Raiders might have expected.
“I understand the issues involved,” Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie told Peter King of MMQB. “But we did our research, and we read all the reports, and we did more than our due diligence. After all the information we got, we were comfortable with making this choice and confident in who this player is.”
Conley submitted to a polygraph test earlier that day (and there’s some question about how that went down), with the person that tested him reportedly clearing him. Polygraph testing, though, is controversial and is not universally accepted as evidence in court.
One of the things that McKenzie would have seen in reading all those reports was the witness statements. According to USAT Today’s review of the police report, here is what those witnesses claimed:
Police later spoke to two witnesses who were in Conley’s room, and one of them claimed that Conley “never touched” the woman and added that she “got mad because she got kicked out of the room.”
Another witness said he was sitting in a chair while Conley and the woman were in the room. That additional witness said Conley and the accuser were “on the bed together, but nothing happened.”
Conley also issued a statement from Thursday before the draft that said this:
“There were several witnesses, including another female, who were present the entire time and have given statements that give an accurate account of what took place. We also have video evidence that further discredit [sic] and disprove [sic] other versions of these events.”
Today, according to Ian Rapoport, Conley’s attorney provided the following information after meeting with police:
It sounds like that might not be the only version not accurate that night. That’s in direct contradiction to those witness statements to police, the ones that were used to bolster the strength of his denials. We’ve gone from “never touched” and “nothing happened” to their being physical evidence and Conley’s attorney taking a position that sex was consensual.
That’s a big change. That’s not to say that Conley is guilty or innocent–something to be determined by a court of law or determined by a prosecutor if they don’t feel there is sufficient evidence. But it does explain why the attorney told Rapoport that it was going to take 6-8 weeks to resolve. Having consistent witness statements and no evidence of sexual intercourse is vastly different than having evidence of confirmation of intercourse that directly contradicts earlier witness statements.
It’s going to be a nervous time for Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, who better be hoping a lack of diligence doesn’t come due.
UPDATE: “Consensual sexual event” did not mean “consensual sex,” according to the lawyer: