Two UT football players charged with sexual assault

Wynne Davis and Nick Castillo

UT football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were taken into custody after being arrested and charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony on Thursday. If convicted, the accused face a sentence of two to twenty years, and in addition may face a fine up to $10,000.

The arrest came a month after an incident was reported at San Jacinto Residence Hall at 3:43 a.m. on June 21. Both players have been charged with sexual assault and Sanders has also been charged with improper photography after having taken a picture of the victim during the event.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said officers were in the process of arresting the players Thursday morning. Bail was set at $75,000 for both Meander and Sanders for one count of sexual assault. Sanders has an additional bail of $20,000 for the count of improper photography. At a press conference, UTPD Chief David Carter said the players were released on bond because they do not pose a danger to other students.

In a statement released Thursday, President William Powers Jr. said the University needs to be “free from all sexual assault and violence."

“At The University of Texas at Austin, student safety is our top priority and we are involved with the national efforts to prevent a culture of sexual violence from taking root on campuses,” Powers said. “We educate all of our students about preventing sexual assault and vigorously investigate all allegations so we can take the appropriate action.”

Powers said the University is carrying out a Student Judicial Services review, which could result in the players' expulsion form the University. 

Texas head coach Charlie Strong issued a statement Thursday announcing that both players have been suspended from the team indefinitely and will no longer participate in team functions.

“It’s been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values,” Strong said in the statement. “I’m extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that.”

At Big 12 Media Days, Strong said that two players had lost their right to enter Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletics Center after violating the team’s core values. Strong said that the players would have to earn their right to enter the team facility. Strong also made it clear that there would be consequences for breaking his core values.

“I tell them right away, if you don’t want to be a part of this football team, break a core value,” Strong said. “You’re telling me you don’t want to be here, starter or no starter.”

Both Sanders and Meander played as wide receivers for the team. An education junior, Sanders started in seven games during the 2013 season. Meander is an undeclared freshman and was redshirted last season.

In the affidavits for their arrests, UTPD officers said they found the victim crying underneath a desk. The victim said she had consented to having sex with Meander after coming home from Sixth Street. According to the documents, Sanders then knocked on the door and Meander let him in while Meander went to the bathroom.

The victim said Sanders then removed his clothing while she said she did not want to have sex with him. According to the affidavit, Sanders then ignored her and proceeded to get in bed and force himself onto the victim. The affidavit states that the victim protested, but “Sanders told the victim she would like it and that it is going to feel good.”

When Meander came back into the room, the victim said she withdrew her consent to sex with him, but both Sanders and Meander continued to assualt her. Sanders, Meander and the victim all knew each other previously.

During the incident the victim said she saw a flash, but did not receive an answer when she asked about a photo or recording. UTPD officers later found at least one photo of the victim on Sanders' phone.

Calls to players' attorneys have not been returned.

Athletic Director Steve Patterson released a statement stating that the athletic department holds its student-athletes to a high standard, but as this is a legal matter they cannot provide more information.

Additional reporting by Amanda Voeller. This story has been updated throughout since its original publication.