HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — A North Carolina football player charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and assault on a fellow student is scheduled for trial in December.
During a brief court hearing Thursday morning, attorneys reserved the weeks of Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 for the case against Allen Artis, a junior reserve linebacker suspended indefinitely from the team.
Afterward, Artis’ attorneys told reporters they would continue to fight the case and were concerned about damage to his reputation.
“I’ll make that clear right now: We are not going to plead guilty to anything,” said Steve Lindsay, an Asheville-based attorney. “This man has done nothing wrong.”
Artis, who has been suspended indefinitely from the team, attended the hearing with his parents, an aunt and a godmother.
In the front row sat the accuser, Delaney Robinson, and her attorney. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault, but Robinson held a Sept. 13 news conference, saying she had filed for the misdemeanor charges after police and prosecutors indicated there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue felony charges.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has taken the lead on the misdemeanor case and has said it remains an ongoing investigation.
According to an arrest warrant, Artis had sex with Robinson against her will in February when he “should have reasonably known that the other person was mentally incapacitated and physically helpless.” The warrant also said he pulled on her bra strap “causing an indentation on her shoulder/back” during the encounter.
Robinson has said she had become intoxicated after being out with friends and was unable to consent to having sex. Her attorney, Denise Branch, has also criticized the way campus police handled a rape kit and the questioning of Artis, who is from Marietta, Georgia.
“Delaney Robinson is a rape victim, and she has chosen to exercise her rights as a victim to be involved in these legal proceedings,” Branch said in a statement released after Thursday’s hearing. “We are pleased with the actions Mr. Woodall and his office have taken since Ms. Robinson had the courage to come forward. Ms. Robinson remains resolute in her pursuit of justice.”
Artis met with a group of reporters Tuesday to make his first public comments on the allegations. He said the two had consensual sex and that he neither drugged nor raped her. Kerry Sutton, a Durham-based attorney who also is representing Artis, said he passed a polygraph test and reiterated that Thursday.
“I wanted you to see that he is not a mugshot,” said Sutton, who later turned to Artis and said: “Allen, tell them, did you rape her?”
“I did not rape her,” Artis repeated five times, pausing each time to turn and look into a different camera.
Artis’ indefinitely suspension was the result of an automatic university policy when an athlete is charged with a misdemeanor. Any reinstatement would come after a review from athletic director Bubba Cunningham, head coach Larry Fedora and school officials.
Artis has played in 27 career games as a reserve and on special teams with 20 tackles. He last practiced Sept. 11, two days before Robinson’s news conference, and said he is still attending classes and plans to graduate in May.