UPDATE: Sept. 2, 2016
An Elon University football player who was found responsible for a sexual offense by the Office of Student Conduct in 2014 had his false imprisonment charge dismissed without leave by a district attorney in May.
Adrian Jabril McClendon, who's since graduated from Elon but is still a member of the football team, complied with the terms of an Alford plea deal, according to court documents.
McClendon filed the plea in Alamance County District Court on May 15, 2014. In the plea, a sexual battery charge was dropped and the sentencing for the false imprisonment charge was deferred for two years. It carried a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail.
Under the dismissal without leave, the DA does not have permission to refile the complaint.
McClendon is slotted to start in Elon's season opener Saturday vs. Gardner-Webb University.
UPDATED: May 19, 10:38 p.m.
An Elon University football player found responsible for a sexual offense last spring by the Office of Student Conduct still started every game last season.
Though junior Adrian Jabril McClendon, then 19, was charged by the state in March 2014 for sexual battery and false imprisonment, a spokesman for the team said this week he had no knowledge of the incident.
Smith Jackson, vice president for student life, released a statement Monday night saying the athletic department knew of the situation and handled it promptly.
“Federal student privacy laws prevent the university from discussing details of specific student conduct cases,” Jackson said. “However, in regard to media reports about a matter involving a student-athlete in spring 2014, we can say that after learning of the incident, Elon Athletics took immediate and appropriate action, suspending the athlete from the team for the remainder of the semester.”
With that suspension, McClendon missed all of spring practice, but was reinstated in time to start Elon’s season opener at Duke University Aug. 30, 2014.
In a May 15, 2014 Alford plea — in which a defendant maintains innocence but admits the state could convict — the more serious sexual battery charge was dropped. Separately, McClendon was placed under preliminary suspension in a university hearing last spring, according to junior Takeva Mitchell, who alleged the incident.
Under the deal, sentencing for the false imprisonment charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail, was bumped back to May 2, 2016.
Though The Pendulum by policy does not name victims who report sex offenses, Mitchell chose to identify herself when conveying her frustration over the lack of punishment by the football program. The incident was first reported by Elon Local News.
“After looking at the university charges against Adrian, there was sufficient evidence to charge him,” Mitchell said in an email. “With that being said, he should have been suspended off of the team. I believe that with the football team allowing him to stay on the team, it showed that they in fact did not disagree with his actions and therefore allowed him to remain on the team.”
The team spokesman, Chris Rash, said it’s the athletic department’s policy not to discuss student disciplinary matters. He would not make head coach Rich Skrosky available for comment.
Dave Blank, director of athletics, was not available for comment, either. President Leo Lambert said in an email that he has nothing to add to Jackson’s statement.
McClendon, now 21, still started in all 12 of Elon’s games during the 2014 season. The defensive back, who has two years of eligibility remaining, recorded 43 tackles and intercepted three passes last season.
Town of Elon Police Chief Cliff Parker said his department weekly gives the Elon University Office of Student Conduct reports involving students. It’s not the town’s obligation, Parker said, to contact the athletic department.
According to a Town of Elon Police report, filed by Mitchell, the incident occurred at Campus Trace Apartments — located on E. Haggard Avenue — the night of March 13, 2014. McClendon, per the Alamance County Clerk of Court, groped the victim with force and against her will.
McClendon, of Jacksonville, Florida, turned himself in later that day. He was placed under a $500 secured bond, which was met.
To Mitchell, the lack of punishment reinforces her belief that the team brushed aside what she said happened to her.
“I never wanted him to be suspended indefinitely, but I did think that the athletics department could have made a statement by saying that they will not tolerate such behaviors from their players, therefore suspending him for a semester or so,” she said.
Said Jackson: “Athletics administrators and coaches do not intervene in campus judicial or law enforcement matters, and respect the outcomes of those proceedings. We believe that staff and faculty who are knowledgeable of the specific circumstances of sexual misconduct cases and follow due process are the best judges about the appropriateness of sanctions that are levied against students.”
McClendon’s lawyer, Keisha Bluford, did not return a phone call seeking comment. McClendon didn't offer any comment when reached via email.