Tennessee Coach Butch Jones denies calling player 'a traitor' for helping alleged rape victim

Tennessee football Coach Butch Jones called a former player "a traitor" for helping a woman who said she had been raped by two other players, according to an amended complaint filed Wednesday as part of a Title IX lawsuit against the university.

Former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowles stated in a sworn declaration filed in federal court in Nashville that his then-coach told him that he had “betrayed the team” with his actions, but then called him back several hours later to apologize.

Jones denied the accusations in a statement released late Wednesday night.

“The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false,” Jones said. “To the contrary, I did all I could to assist the former student in question. During the course of the judicial process, campus officials, as well as the young man's own words, will clearly establish that I have done nothing wrong.

“I will fight all of these false attacks on my character, and I know that once this process has been completed, my reputation will be affirmed.”

According to the complaint, Bowles saw a young woman “hyperventilating and crying near bushes in the parking lot” early in the morning Nov. 16, 2014, and helped her obtain medical help. That woman has accused former linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams of raping her.

Later that day, the filing states, Bowles was confronted by teammate Curt Maggitt about what had happened.

“Bowles told Maggitt what had happened. Maggitt became violently upset, said that Bowles was trying to [mess] up A.J. and suddenly punched Bowles in the mouth with great force, causing Bowles’ lip to bleed,” the complaint said.

Bowles fought back, and the two players were eventually separated by teammates. Bowles called Jones that night to tell him what had happened with Maggitt, the complaint states, which is when the coach expressed his disappointment in the player.

The filing also alleges that two more teammates, Geraldo Orta and Marlin Lane, “aggressively came over to Bowles' table to jump him as they shouted at him” at lunch the following day before another coach intervened.

Bowles transferred to Chattanooga after the 2014 season. Johnson and Williams were indicted on aggravated rape charges in February 2015.

The federal lawsuit alleges that Tennessee regularly shows indifference when student-athletes are accused of sexual assaults, thus creating a “hostile sexual environment.” On Wednesday, two more plaintiffs were added to the lawsuit, bringing the total of unidentified women plaintiffs to eight.

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