The Wisconsin wide receiver was in court Tuesday for his preliminary hearing and Judge Jill Karofsky found probable cause to bound Cephus over for trial on charges of second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and third-degree sexual assault. The 20-year-old is accused of assaulting two different women on April 22.
Prior to the hearing, the judge denied a motion by the defense to dismiss the second-degree charge. Cephus’ attorneys filed the motion claiming the state had failed to include key evidence in the criminal complaint, namely video from Cephus’ apartment building that they said showed the alleged victims not to be as intoxicated as the criminal complaint suggests. They further argued that because of what was on the video, the first woman, whose statements make up much of the criminal complaint, was not a credible witness.
But the judge determined that even if the videos were included in the complaint, there was still probable cause to proceed based on the stories of the two women, along with a statement by Danny Davis, Cephus’ teammate and roommate, that he witnessed one of the women sitting on the floor of a campus bar prior to the alleged assaults and believed her to be intoxicated.
“I don’t expect anyone to roll over in this case and for this to be a plea [bargain] next week,” Assistant District Attorney William Brown said before the judge handed down her ruling. “This is likely to be a trial. It seems they are hotly contesting every fact of this case and I believe this probably will be a trial. But this isn’t the stage in the proceedings to challenge those facts. That should be done in front of a jury.”
One of Cephus’ attorneys, Kathleen Stilling, confirmed Brown’s thinking.
“I can agree with the state on one thing. Every fact is going to be hotly contested,” Stilling told reporters afterwards. “We think, and believe, that at the end of this case, when all the facts are known, that what we’ve said from the very beginning will be demonstrated. That all three people, who were in that room that night, knew exactly what they were doing.”
Cephus, who was suspended from the team when the charges were filed, spoke for the first time on Tuesday.
“I’m innocent,” Cephus said. “I know the truth. They know the truth. I look forward to clearing my name and fighting for who I am.”
The next step in the case is an arraignment where Cephus is expected to enter a plea on the two charges.