Attorneys of Bixby teens charged with rape: This was roughhousing, not sexual assault
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- The attorneys for four teenage boys charged with raping a Bixby football teammate called a news conference Friday afternoon to say there was no rape and no sexual assault.
"It is without question that the allegations being made equating to a sexual assault are false, completely false," said defense attorney Clark Brewster.
He went on to say there has been a roughhousing culture for years among Bixby football players, possibly as long as a decade. He said there was no rape and there is no victim.
In a prepared statement given to Tulsa's Channel 8 before the news conference, the attorneys claim the incident was "a prankish, roughhousing culture on the football team." They also claim the victim previously engaged in similar roughhousing but was not charged.
On Thursday, Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard filed charges against Samuel Lakin, William Thomas, Colton Cable and Joe Wood for second-degree rape by instrumentation. Court documents say the teens, who are being charged as youthful offenders, used a pool stick to sexually assault a teammate in September 2017.
The alleged assault occurred at the home of then-Superintendent Kyle Wood, father of Joe Wood, during an offensive line dinner. Court documents say the elder Wood and a coach were present for the gathering.
According to the affidavit, the victim accompanied the suspects upstairs to play video games after dinner but someone mentioned getting a pool stick. In an interview with investigators, the victim said he believed he knew what was going to happen based on a similar incident that occurred during the previous football season.
The victim tried to leave but the door was locked and he was held down by the suspects, according to the affidavit, as he was assaulted with the pool stick. Several people interviewed in the case said they believed the assault was recorded on a cellphone but later believed the video was deleted.
At Friday's news conference, Paul DeMuro, attorney for the former superintendent, said the victim continued to spend time with the teen suspects after the alleged assault and even stayed the night at Wood's home following the incident. DeMuro also said there is a conflict of interest in the case because an investigator for the district attorney's office has close ties to the accuser's family.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office previously recused itself and the case is now being handled by the Rogers County DA's Office, which released a statement saying they would not comment specifically on the news conference but that "the district attorney's office would simply refer people to the facts of the case contained in documents filed of public record."
On Thursday, a source close to the investigation said authorities are looking into whether there is another victim. According to a police report, officers were called to Bixby Public Schools Feb. 28 to take a report of rape by instrumentation from a 16-year-old but no other information was available.
A grand jury is reviewing the case but has yet to make any recommendations. The group is supposed to meet again next week at which time several school leaders are expected to be questioned, including the former superintendent, about when they learned of the alleged assault and if there an attempt to cover it up.