Arkansas’ Fortson may be disciplined over crass Twitter message made during rape investigation

By Jon Gambrell, AP
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Arkansas’ Fortson may be disciplined over tweet

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One of Arkansas’ basketball team’s leading scorers could be disciplined over a crass comment he made on the Internet as police investigated fellow players over an alleged rape, an athletic department spokesman said Thursday.

Point guard Courtney Fortson, a sophomore from Montgomery, Ala., made the comment on the micro-blogging Web site Twitter two days before news of the investigation became public. Fortson was not one of the basketball players named in the complaint about the alleged Aug. 27 attack at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.

In the Monday post, Fortson wrote: “Im gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesnt understand the word no from a drunk girl lol.”

Fortson later deleted the comment. The Associated Press accessed a cached version of the posting from another Web site.

Athletic department spokesman Kevin Trainor said officials were aware of Fortson’s comment. He said Fortson could face disciplinary action, though the point guard and the three players continue to participate in daily preseason conditioning.

The athletic department “will take appropriate action,” Trainor said. Fortson, 21, was suspended for a game last season for undisclosed reasons. He averaged 14.8 points per game, second-most on the team.

Prosecutor John Threet said Wednesday that he wouldn’t charge any of the basketball players named in the complaint. Threet said the investigation didn’t show that the woman was unaware a sex act occurred or that she was unable to say no — circumstances that could lead to sexual assault charges when the victim consumed alcohol.

John Bass, a Springdale lawyer representing the female student, said Thursday that he continued to examine the case.

“The victim remains adamant in her allegations,” Bass said. “The family is of course surprised and disappointed by the decision not to file charges.”

Coach John Pelphrey, who joined the Razorbacks in April 2007, issued a statement late Thursday saying officials would “move forward judiciously” as they review the allegations.

“We will continue to emphasize to our student-athletes that as members of the Razorback program they have a responsibility to conduct themselves and represent our university and our basketball program in an appropriate manner,” Pelphrey said.

The coach did not respond to an interview request from the AP. Trainor said he didn’t know if Pelphrey had a meeting with the team to discuss the allegations.

The rape investigation began Aug. 28, when an 18-year-old freshman at the Fayetteville university walked into the campus police station with a Greek Life adviser. A detailed police report obtained by the AP through a state Freedom of Information Act request shows she told investigators she drank about five shots of vodka during the fraternity party.

The woman told investigators one of the basketball players forced her to commit a sex act and another began one a short time later in a bedroom, the report shows. Other witnesses told police the woman danced provocatively with the three basketball players. A fraternity member who lived in the room later unlocked the door and found the woman engaged in sex acts with two of the men, the report shows.

When the fraternity member ordered them out of his room, the report shows he told investigators that the woman said: “Why, we weren’t doing anything wrong.” Other witnesses described the woman as lucid and able to walk without stumbling, though one witness told police her speech sounded slurred and she appeared unsteady on her feet.

The next morning, one of the basketball players sent the woman a text message to ask how she was. The police report shows the woman responded: “um nol cuz I don’t know wat … happened.”

On the Net:

University of Arkansas athletics:

Associated Press Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report from Rogers, Ark.

will not be displayed