Revenge porn case: He allegedly sent US teen a video of her assault


The woman told detectives she had reached out to Washington on Instagram to congratulate him for earning a football scholarship at Nebraska and that he responded with online sexual advances. — AFP

The woman told detectives she had reached out to Washington on Instagram to congratulate him for earning a football scholarship at Nebraska and that he responded with online sexual advances. — AFP

SAN JOSE: Maurice Washington III, 19, was charged in December in Santa Clara County Superior Court with one felony count of child pornography and a misdemeanour count of distributing a private sexual video to cause emotional distress, a violation of what is commonly known as California's "revenge porn" law. 

He did not enter a plea and was ordered back to court May 13. 

Washington was accompanied by family and friends during a brief afternoon court hearing before Judge Cynthia Sevely. While Washington has been represented by attorney John Ball in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he attends college, Sevely referred him to the Public Defender's Office because Ball was not present and does not practice law in California. 

The defendant declined comment to questions from reporters outside the courthouse. He remains free on US$35,000 (RM144,095) bail he posted after turning himself in to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office March 11, when he was formally booked. In previous statements, Ball has said Washington was "fully cooperative with authorities" and emphasised his client's right to due process. 

The Sheriff's Office and its Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement task force began investigating Washington in March 2018 after they were contacted by the mother of a woman who dated Washington when they both attended The King's Academy high school in Sunnyvale. The woman told detectives she had reached out to Washington on Instagram to congratulate him for earning a football scholarship at Nebraska and that he responded with online sexual advances. 

She told the detectives that he became more aggressive, so she blocked him on the social-media platform. Washington then allegedly sent her a text on March 2 that had a short video from two years earlier, showing her being sexually assaulted by two male schoolmates in a minivan when she was 15, along with the message: "Remember this hoe." 

Both the sheriff's office and Washington's attorney say that he did not make or appear in the video, which, detectives wrote, was shared among students at The King's Academy in 2016. School administrators, upon its discovery, "made everyone they knew to be in possession of the video delete it". The teen girl reported the assault to Campbell police, and one of the boys in the case was prosecuted in juvenile court, where records are not public. 

According to an investigative report from the Nebraska Department of Justice, Washington denied the allegations through a former Nebraska attorney general serving as counsel for the athletics program there. But Santa Clara County detectives recommended charges after serving a search warrant for Washington's smartphone records. 

It also remains unclear how much the university and the athletic department knew about the allegations against Washington when it allowed him to play his freshman season last fall. The Nebraska DOJ report indicates that officials were informed of the nature of the allegations around the start of the season, but the athletic department contends that they did not know the full details until around when the charges were filed. 

Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost told local media in March that Washington would be a "limited participant" in spring training because of the legal matter, and he is listed as "out" in ESPN's online roster for the team. 

When the revenge porn case surfaced publicly in February through an NBC Bay Area report, The King's Academy released a statement emphasising that the reported assault did not occur on school grounds and that the video surfaced after Washington had left the school, where he played standout football for two years. Washington transferred to Oak Grove High School in San Jose and later to Trinity Christian High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, before heading to Nebraska. – The San Jose Mercury News/Tribune News Services