Stewart won’t face charges

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Former Potomac High School football player Antwan Stewart won’t be charged with raping a 16-year-old girl in a dormitory this spring, Knox County prosecutors said Wednesday.

The girl accused Stewart, a redshirt freshman from Triangle projected to start at cornerback for the Volunteers this fall, of sexually assaulting her May 17. She and a 17-year-old friend were visiting Gibbs Hall, a dormitory primarily occupied by athletes.

“Considering all the evidence, it is clear there is not sufficient evidence to prove the allegations in the case beyond a reasonable doubt, as is required by law. Therefore, we will not bring charges in the matter,” District Attorney General Randy Nichols said.

His office provided reporters with copies of the 100-page case file. It includes a document from Knox County Schools from 2002 that declares the girl learning disabled. A document from April 2003 described her written and spelling skills on a fourth-grade level, word recognition and oral reading at a fifth-grade level and reading comprehension skills on a second-grade level.

“The examining nurse felt (the) victim just has no idea what she had gotten into and didn’t know how to react. Makes sense in light of her mental development,” according to handwritten notes from the district attorney’s office included in the file.

Stewart’s attorney, Patricia Long, said the result of the investigation was not a surprise.

“We anticipated from the beginning that once they completed a thorough investigation we knew there would be no case against Mr. Stewart,” she said. “He is grateful to the agencies involved for doing their jobs thoroughly and relieved to have this behind him.”

Nichols said he told the girl, her attorney and her mother on Tuesday.

The alleged victim’s attorney, Larry Leibowitz, said his office was conducting its own investigation to determine whether they would pursue other legal actions.

He maintained that his client was “subjected to unwanted forced” sexual contact “at a time and place she should have been safe.”

The case took an odd twist when Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer and his attorney Jeff Hagood met with the 17-year-old friend, her mother and other adult relatives hours after the alleged attack. The girl provided Fulmer a written statement about what occurred in the dorm, which authorities made part of their investigative file.

The 17-year-old girl suspected the younger girl was going to accuse Stewart of misconduct, and she alerted other players, Fulmer has said. Some players told Fulmer about the situation, and the coach arranged the meeting, which took place before the alleged victim contacted police the next day.

Fulmer said he was trying to uncover the truth about the incident, not influence a possible witness or impede the investigation. Nichols has said the meeting was not improper but that it cast “an odd light on the case.”

On Wednesday, Nichols said “there is absolutely no indication that contact made with any witness by persons other than the police or our office had any effect on their statements.”

Stewart, 19, has remained on the team but was disciplined for showing bad judgment by allowing the girl in his room. He has attended voluntary workouts this summer.

The girl told police she went to the second floor of Gibbs Hall with her friend, whom she said “had previously been to the Gibbs Hall to visit residents there.”

She said she went to (UT football player) Marvin Lee Mitchell’s room, then “a black male she knows only as Antwan took her to another room and sexually assaulted her,” according to the University of Tennessee Police Department report.

Stewart redshirted last season, but was impressive in spring practice as he was named one of the most improved defensive players on the team. Mitchell was not accused of any wrongdoing.