According to email sent to the school’s faculty, staff and students, Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek said the university was notified that someone had filed a complaint with the department pertaining to Tennessee’s response to a sexual violence report.
The investigation comes as the school faces scrutiny for its handling of sexual assault allegations against at least six University of Tennessee football players in the last three years. Johnson were indicted in mid-February by a Knox County grand jury on two counts each of aggravated rape. Johnson has since graduated and completed his eligibility. The National Football League subsequently revoked its invitation for Johnson to participate in the NFL Combine. The unnamed woman claimed that the assault lasted 45 minutes, and occurred during the course of a party being held following UT’s win over Kentucky.
The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported the investigation. Wide receiver Von Pearson is suspended from the team after Knoxville Police named him a suspect in a rape investigation.
Former defensive back Riyahd Jones was named in February as a suspect in an ongoing rape investigation in which no arrests have been made or charges have been filed, though the woman said the incident happened after Jones already had left the team. Williams’ attorney has denied the charges.
Cheek said UT “enhanced our care and support for victims; increased our prevention and educational efforts; published statistics on reports of sexual assault and on care and support for victims; and created a website with a full list of resources and educational tools”. The Tennessean is not naming the football player because he has not been publicly accused and no police report was filed.
As The Tennessean report notes, there are dozens of open federal investigations into sexual crimes at various college campuses around the country. Both of those probes are in part connected to the football programs at the respective universities.