KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Former Tennessee football players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams will be tried together as they each face aggravated rape charges.

Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee ruled Wednesday that the two men would be tried together. The trial date is set for July 16.

Johnson was a linebacker and Williams a defensive back for Tennessee when a woman told police both men raped her in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2014. They were suspended from the team the following week and never played again for Tennessee.

Williams and Johnson were indicted in February 2015. Their cases were separated later that year.

Prosecutors had asked for one trial because so much time has passed since the charges were initially filed that many of the witness have scattered to other locations. The state’s motion to consolidate the cases said it would be appropriate for Johnson and Williams to be tried together because “the state’s proof as to one defendant will be virtually identical to the proof as to the other.”

Stephen Ross Johnson, the lawyer for Johnson, disputed the idea that the state’s cases against each individual were similar. Stephen Ross Johnson has said that “for several months prior to these allegations, A.J. Johnson was engaged in a consensual relationship with the woman who says he raped her.

Defense lawyers said that due to the woman’s prior relationship with A.J. Johnson, “there is significant evidence on the issue of consent” to include evidence “that arguably would not be admissible as to Mr. Williams, but is an essential component of Mr. Johnson’s defense.”

Stephen Ross Johnson also said there was evidence against Williams “that would not be admissible against Mr. Johnson but would significantly prejudice Mr. Johnson in a joint trial.”


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