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Y. acts against players

2 suspended and 2 disciplined in honor code probe

PROVO — Brigham Young University officials reviewing allegations of sexual assault and drinking in a Provo apartment have suspended two freshman football players for one year and disciplined two others for apparent violations of the school Honor Code, sources told the Deseret Morning News Wednesday.

Four other players are involved in Honor Code reviews, according to one source.

No criminal charges have been filed against anyone in connection with the alleged incident.

Return specialist B.J. Mathis and linebacker William Turner Jr. were suspended, and defensive backs Karland Bennett and Ibrahim Rashada also were disciplined. Possible Honor Code penalties can range from probation to suspension and dismissal from the university.

The four players did not practice with the team Wednesday.

Administrators informed each player in person of the decisions, but BYU officials would not confirm the penalties because the players have a window of opportunity to appeal.

"I cannot comment until the process is complete in its entirety," university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

Head football coach Gary Crowton decided before the season that Bennett, Mathis and Turner would redshirt, or sit out without using one of their four years of eligibility, while police investigated allegations about a possible rape and drinking at the apartment in August.

A 17-year-old Salt Lake City girl claimed she drank vodka with a large group of men, watched pornographic movies with them and then was raped by several after she passed out in a room at the Villa Apartments, a block or two east of campus on Aug. 8.

The only court documents made public so far contain the names of four players, including three of the four punished by BYU. However, the documents do not contain specific allegations against any of them.

Provo police searched the apartment, which belonged to two BYU players, on Aug. 10 and seized a wash cloth, bed sheets, condoms and a pornographic movie.

Detectives turned the case over to the Utah County Attorney's Office on Aug. 31. After prosecutors screened the case, they sent it back to police for further investigation while prosecutors continued to interview the girl and others. Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson also assigned investigators from his office to the case.

Police obtained a search warrant Oct. 4 to take blood samples from four players, but a 4th District Court judge sealed those results.

Bryson said Wednesday that his office is still investigating and screening the case.

"There's nothing we can say at this time," Bryson told the Deseret Morning News. "We are busy working on it."

At least one family source was frustrated by BYU's decision.

"I cannot believe they would take the word of this girl over these young men when the police have not even come forth with enough evidence to file charges of any kind after all this time," the source said. "We'd like to clear their names before they leave the school."

A parent and an uncle of one of the players is expected to arrive in Provo this week to review the legality of BYU's investigation, the Honor Code review and the police investigation.

One of the players, Rashada, told the Deseret Morning News last month that another woman left a message on his cell phone threatening to accuse him of rape after he refused to date her.

Rashada, 18, is from August, Ga.; Bennett, 19, and Mathis, 18, are from Dallas. Turner, 17, is from Daly City, Calif.

BYU's Honor Code prohibits the use of alcohol or tobacco and all extramarital and premarital sex.


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com; twalch@desnews.com