Three suspended from teams

Georgia coaches did not wait on formal charges to proceed with indefinite suspensions of three student-athletes cited in an ongoing investigation of a rape on campus Monday night.

By Charles Odum
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coaches did not wait on formal charges to proceed with indefinite suspensions of three student-athletes cited in an ongoing investigation of a rape on campus Monday night.


Starting power forward Steve Thomas  and backup point guard Tony Cole were suspended from the basketball team before Wednesday night's home game against Alabama. Backup cornerback Brandon Williams was suspended from the football team by Coach Mark Richt.


The suspensions are pending the conclusion of investigations by the University of Georgia Police Department, UGA Student Affairs and the athletic association.


It is not known what roles two of the three student-athletes are accused of carrying out in the incident at McWhorter Hall.


As of Wednesday night, no charges had been filed and no arrest warrants had been issued.


A University of Georgia student has accused one basketball player of rape, Williams of attempted rape and the second basketball player of being an accessory to the attack.


University of Georgia associate vice-president for public safety Asa Boynton said Wednesday that campus police were conducting interviews and continuing in the "fact-finding'' part of the case. Boynton indicated he expects charges to be filed soon.


"There is no way to predict it, but we're moving pretty rapidly,'' Boynton said.  "I think we're going to try to get it resolved as quickly as possible.''


Earlier Wednesday in a press conference, Boynton said the UGA Police Department has been updating the Clarke County District Attorney's office on the progress of the case.


University of Georgia police chief Chuck Horton said this is the first rape case involving a Georgia student-athlete that he can remember.


The 6-foot-8 Thomas, a sophomore, is the only player on the team listed as taller than 6-foot-7. Thomas, from Carrollton, Ga., has averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.


Cole, a junior from Baton Rouge, La., is the top backup at point guard. He averages 5.6 points and 2.3 rebounds.


Williams, who like Cole came to Georgia as a junior college transfer, recorded 13 tackles with one interception as a reserve cornerback in 2001. Williams, from Moss Point, Miss., is in line to compete for a starting position next season.


The alleged attack occurred between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Monday at McWhorter Hall, which once housed only scholarship athletes but now, by NCAA rule, must be at least half-filled with non-athletes.


The woman told police she knew the alleged rapist but did not know the other alleged attacker. The woman reported the incident at about 1 a.m. Tuesday and was taken to the Athens-Clarke Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner house, where she was given a rape exam.


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