Badgers' Cephus pleads not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting two drunk women
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus made his first court appearance Thursday on charges alleging that he sexually assaulted two drunken women this spring, a day after his attorneys asked the judge to dismiss one of the counts because they say the women weren't as impaired as investigators allege.
Prosecutors charged Cephus on Monday with second- and third-degree sexual assault, which are both felonies. The second-degree charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. According to a criminal complaint, Cephus sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April.
Cephus has denied any wrongdoing. The 6-foot-1 junior stood mute during his court appearance as Court Commissioner Brian Asmus set a $5,000 signature bond and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Sept. 6. The proceeding lasted less than five minutes.
One of Cephus' attorneys, Kathleen Stilling, told reporters outside of court that he is innocent.
"A criminal complaint, and this criminal complaint, is a slanted, one-sided version of the events," she said. "We look forward to getting out all of the facts and clearing Quintez's name."
Jamie Dickey, Cephus' basketball coach at Stratford Academy in Macon, Georgia, was in court to support his former player.
"He's a son to me," Dickey told reporters. "I'm confident he will be exonerated and he'll be owed an apology by the time this is all said and done."
Stilling and Cephus' other attorney, Stephen Meyer, filed a motion Wednesday seeking to dismiss the second-degree sexual assault count. They argued that the woman linked to that count wasn't drunk and parted with Cephus on good terms.
The woman, identified in the motion as I.A., was so drunk she looked possessed, the other woman, identified as S.R., told investigators, according to the complaint.
But Cephus' attorneys contend in their motion that surveillance camera footage shows I.A. walking down stairs in the apartment building without any difficulty after the alleged assaults supposedly took place. The footage also shows S.R. talking with Cephus at the apartment door in what appears to be normal conversation.
The motion also alleges that I.A. sent Cephus a text about 45 minutes after leaving the building asking him to look for a vaping device she left at the apartment. She closed the text with a heart and a kiss emoji, signaling she was interested in seeing Cephus again, the lawyers wrote. They maintain that prosecutors made a conscious decision not to mention that evidence in the complaint, amounting to a "material misstatement of fact given the extreme intoxication alleged in the complaint in this case."
Cephus was suspended indefinitely from the fourth-ranked Badgers. According to the criminal complaint, Cephus' roommate, fellow receiver Danny Davis, was present during the assaults and took photos of the women. He hasn't been charged but he was suspended Wednesday for Wisconsin's first two games.
Cephus amassed 501 yards receiving last season and led the Badgers with six touchdown catches despite breaking his right leg last November.
Davis, a sophomore from Springfield, Ohio, caught 26 passes for 418 yards and five touchdowns last season.