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Grand Jury Fails to Indict Players

February 21, 2002

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A grand jury refused to indict seven Jackson State basketball players and a former team member accused of sexually assaulting a female student, the Hinds County sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Pickett said his office was notified of the grand jury’s decision Wednesday.

All eight had been free on bond pending grand jury action.

Authorities had charged Damien Smith and Cedric Gilbert, a former basketball player, with rape and sexual battery.

Reginald Taylor, John Chandler and Jerome Bracey were charged with rape, and Brian Nichols, Robin Lucas and Richard Bradley were charged with sexual battery.

The players were suspended from the team and then from school in November after a female student accused them of forcing her to have sex in a campus dormitory.

Herbert Lee, an attorney for the players, said the players might sue the university for its handling of the case.

Calls to the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office were not answered Wednesday evening.

Jackson State coach Andy Stoglin said he was relieved for the players and their families.

``This was such a devastating thing to the families,″ he said.

Stoglin said Bradley, Taylor, Nichols and Lucas will play against Mississippi Valley State at home on Saturday. Bradley was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last season.

Chandler, Smith and Bracey have transferred to junior colleges, Stoglin said, and could return to Jackson State next season.

The Tigers got off to a 2-11 start without the suspended players, losing 10 straight at one point.

Jackson State has improved since Southwestern Athletic Conference play began. The Tigers are 7-16 overall and 6-8 in the SWAC.

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