Ex-Louisville guard Jones pleads not guilty to rape, sodomy
GARY B. GRAVES
Feb. 27, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville coach Rick Pitino had reached his limit with Chris Jones, even before he knew the senior guard was facing felony rape and sodomy charges.
Demonstrating a zero tolerance for any more misbehavior after reinstating Jones from a one-game suspension, Pitino abruptly dismissed him from the team.
Pitino says all he knew for certain at the time was that Jones had broken a curfew, but had no details about more serious accusations looming.
Then Thursday, Jones pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree rape and sodomy. He has a hearing set for March 9.
"I knew there was a problem by the look on (assistant coach) Kenny (Johnson's) face," Pitino said, reflecting on when he was informed Sunday there was yet another issue with Jones. "We didn't know whether there were rape charges, what they were going to be, we didn't know any of that.
"We didn't know if Chris was directly involved because after speaking with Chris. ... That's all I can say on that matter."
Pitino knew enough to call Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.
The AD said he was "disturbed" about the possible trouble and discussed the situation with Pitino. He left the decision to his coach.
"I don't think he could handle it much better," Jurich said. "I think he was very, very swift. I think he handled it as quick as any human being possible could do it."
The 62-year-old Hall of Fame coach said he has had to deal with issues with players before, including marijuana use, but nothing like this. He said he was "blindsided" by the allegations, which capped off a tumultuous nine days involving Jones.
A Louisville campus police report obtained Monday stated that Jones, a Memphis native, sent a woman a text threatening to "smack" her on Feb. 17. No charges were filed, but Jones was suspended from the team hours later and did not travel to a game at Syracuse.
After returning and helping Louisville rally to beat Miami on Saturday, Pitino said Jones was in a "great mood."
He nonetheless remained under tight restrictions from Pitino. And the coach said he asked the 5-foot-10 guard if he stayed out late. Jones said he did and Pitino told him he was off the team immediately.
Pitino said the rape and sodomy accusations contradict his preaching to players to respect women and others and that he was stunned by the charges.
"I've had problems with Chris, but they've never been of this nature," said Pitino, adding that he's been described as having too much discipline. "My problems have been sulking, emotional outbursts in practice, not paying attention. He's always on time, always worked hard and by and large always done the right things for the team.
"I've never seen any signs of this."
Jones, 23, appeared in Jefferson District Court before Judge Sheila Collins immediately after turning himself in to authorities. He was released but was ordered to not leave his home. He did not speak during the brief hearing.
His attorney, Scott Cox, said Jones is cooperating with the investigation.
"We believe this gentleman is innocent and he's been falsely accused, and he's going to be found not guilty," he said.
The allegations involved two women at a private apartment off campus on Feb. 22, university police said during a news conference. One of the women was identified as a University of Louisville student.
Two others were arrested and charged in the alleged attack on the second woman. Jalen D. Tilford and Tyvon Julah Walker are each charged with rape. Tilford also is charged with sodomy.
The judge set bond of $75,000 for Tilford and $100,000 for Walker. Neither is a student.
Jones has withdrawn from classes and has moved out of the athletic dorm and into a hotel room, Cox said.
Associated Press writer Dylan Lovan contributed to this report.