DURHAM, N.C. — A North Carolina football player facing charges of sexual battery and assault on a female student says the two had consensual sex and that he did not rape or drug her.
In his first public comments, Allen Artis said Tuesday he isn’t a rapist and is eager to get the case behind him. One of his attorneys, Kerry Sutton, also said Artis has passed a polygraph test about the February incident.
“Everything was completely consensual that happened that night,” said a very composed Artis, who was sitting on a couch in his attorney’s home flanked by his mother Stephanie Artis and an aunt Avis Artis. “That’s the truth.”
The junior reserve linebacker, indefinitely suspended from the team, turned himself earlier this month on the misdemeanor charges. His next court date is set for Thursday.
The arrest warrant stated Artis had sex with a female UNC student against her will when he “should have reasonably known that the other person was mentally incapacitated and physically helpless.”
The warrant also states he pulled on her bra strap “causing an indentation on her shoulder/back” during the incident.
The woman, Delaney Robinson, said earlier this month she had become intoxicated after being out with friends and unable to consent. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify alleged 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.
Artis said he was “surprised, hurt, distraught” and worried about his reputation being tarnished when he learned of the charges.
“I had cooperated with the police, been interviewed by them, and I was waiting on their process, for them to decide, and have justice come out that way and have the truth come out that way,” Artis said. “Then when that occurred and I found out there were charges, I was surprised.”
Artis said he had been drinking the night of the incident, but he did not see Robinson drinking. He said they met that night and that Robinson was conscious during consensual sex.
Denise Branch, an attorney representing Robinson, issued a statement reiterating Robinson’s allegation that sex was not consensual.
“On February 14, 2016, my client Delaney Robinson was raped and assaulted by Allen Artis,” Branch said in an email to the AP. “On September 13, 2016, she presented admissible evidence in support of her case to a magistrate. As a result, two misdemeanor warrants were issued for the arrest of Allen Artis. Any purported, and inherently unreliable polygraph test does not alter the fact that my client never consented to have sex with Allen Artis.”
Branch had released a photo showing what appeared to be bruises on Robinson’s neck at the time, though Sutton questioned Tuesday whether it has been altered to appear darker.
Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall told the AP on Tuesday that the case remains an ongoing investigation. He said he was aware of the polygraph report, and is also in communication with Branch and Robinson.
“I can’t say when it will be complete, and I am personally involved in speaking with the UNC Department of Public Safety,” Woodall said. “We did not have a file, we were only advising them, and last week I got the full file. I have reviewed everything that we have to date in the investigation, and I’m going to continue to review it.”
Branch has also criticized the way campus police handled a rape kit and the questioning of Artis, a native of Marietta, Georgia.
Artis’ indefinite 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.
Artis said is attending classes with plans to graduate in May with a double-major in economics and management and society. He hopes to return to football.
“I want the truth to get out and I want to try and help fix my reputation,” Artis said of the decision to speak to reporters.
“My last name I share with everyone in my family. And so that’s really important to me, that my name means something and the people that I share that with — my family — aren’t hurt by that.”