Three Lindenwood men’s basketball players have been charged in connection with a rape in men’s housing last month.
Players Tylan Birts and Ermias Nega were charged with felony second-degree rape, and Bradley Newman Jr. was charged with misdemeanor invasion of privacy, according to documents filed Oct. 14 with the St. Charles County Court.
Nega’s attorney, Bill Byrnes, said Oct. 21 that he “strongly believes” his client is innocent and said Nega will be pleading not guilty. Attorneys for the other players could not be reached immediately for comment.
The sexual assault happened Sept. 18 in men’s housing in the 1600 block of Cullom Drive, according to court documents. The location is approximately five minutes away from Lindenwood’s St. Charles campus.
According to court documents, Nega tried to discourage the woman, who is not a student, from reporting the assault. He told her she would be “shamed” if she said anything.
All three players are listed on the Lindenwood athletic website as juniors. Birts is a journalism major, Nega is a criminal justice major, and Newman is a business management major.
The sex assault resulted in a RAVE alert being sent to all Lindenwood students.
Lindenwood Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Scott Queen said that Lindenwood is cooperating with the St. Charles police department, and that the university is conducting its own Title IX investigation.
Police gave this account of the incident:
While the woman, 22, was at Nega’s residence, the two had consensual sex. Afterwards, Nega left the room while the lights were out and told his roommate Birts that the woman was “ready” for him. Birts entered the room and began having sex with the woman.
When she realized it was not Nega who was having sex with her, she reached for the lights. The woman observed Birts and a third roommate, Newman, who was crouched in the corner of the room naked, “watching and waiting.”
It is unclear how the woman stopped the assault, but Nega tried to talk her out of reporting it.
Nega told police that when he saw the woman after he re-entered the room, she was “in shock” and “teary eyed.”
Police interviewed all three men. Birts confessed that the woman was not aware that he was coming into the room to have sex with her. He also confessed that Nega told him that she was “ready.” Birts confessed that the woman did not consent to having sex with him and that Newman did observe him having sex with the woman.
Lindenwood Sports Information Director Daniel Newton declined to comment on the investigation, other than to say the men have been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team, pending an investigation.
The academic status of the men is unclear. Dean of Students, Dr. Shane Williamson, said in an email that she cannot comment on the investigation while it is underway.
Birts and Nega were released from jail on Oct. 19 after posting a portion of their $20,000 bond.
Newman’s bail was set at $5,000.
Editor’s note: In earlier version of this story, police identified the woman as a Lindenwood student. University officials said that the woman is not a student.