Gareon Conley accused of rape; lawyer denies allegations

Former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley has been accused by a woman of raping her in a Cleveland hotel earlier this month, according to Cleveland police.

Conley has not been arrested nor have any charges been filed against him as Cleveland police investigate the allegations. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia said investigators are making arrangements to interview Conley.

Attorney Kevin Spellacy, without naming his client, earlier Tuesday denied the allegations to WOIO-TV in Cleveland, calling them "ludicrous and ridiculous."

Sources close to Conley tell ESPN's Adam Schefter that they have statements from three witnesses -- two male, one female -- who say Conley was never alone with the accuser and that he did nothing wrong. Two of the witnesses did not know Conley, according to the sources, who added that the information has been shared with NFL teams.

According to a police report obtained by ESPN, the alleged incident occurred April 9. A 23-year-old woman told police she met Conley in the elevator of the downtown hotel and he brought her back to his hotel room. She alleges that after she declined an offer of group sex with Conley and two friends, Conley had sex with her, then kicked her out of the room.

The woman reported the incident and then went to a local hospital, where a rape kit was administered. But the woman also refused to speak to police, according to the report.

According to the police report, Conley's friends said nothing happened between Conley and his accuser and that she was angry he asked her to leave.

Conley is No. 18 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s final Big Board for the NFL draft, which begins Thursday. Conley, 21, had been expected to be taken in the first round.

He does not plan to attend the draft, a source told ESPN's Josina Anderson, confirming an NFL Network report.

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Amid questions around Gareon Conley, one answer so far: He made a terrible decision

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A college football player becomes embroiled in a potentially heinous criminal scandal just days before he is to become a multi-millionaire in the NFL draft. The police are involved, there are two sides to the story, and NFL teams that were hoping to draft the player early in the first round are now scrambling.

This was the saga of LSU offensive guard La’el Collins two years ago. And it’s the story of Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley today.

Did Conley rape a woman in a hotel bathroom in Cleveland on April 9? Or did he not? That should be enough of a concern for all of us, but it’s not.

That horrible uncertainty, life altering as it would be for the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator, is set against the backdrop of the looming NFL draft. Conley was certain to be drafted within the first couple of hours of Thursday night’s televised extravaganza. Now, of course, he might not be drafted at all. He could fall spectacularly out of the draft entirely, just as Collins did in 2015.

If Conley sexually assaulted the woman, going undrafted and losing more than $10 million in earnings would be just the beginning of his deserved punishment. But if he did not rape her, if the woman lied to the police, it would be a terrible turn of events for Conley.

But it would be a turn of events that was entirely within his control to avoid.

The police report says that the 23-year-old woman met the 21-year-old Conley around 3 a.m. while riding in an elevator at the Westin hotel with her friends. She then left her friends to join Conley in his room, where he allegedly asked the woman if she wanted to have sex with another couple in the bathroom.

According to the police report, the woman told Conley “she wanted to watch the couple” with the intention “to try and avoid having sex with Conley all together.”

The police report states that the woman and Conley eventually walked into the bathroom before Conley allegedly assaulted her. The report says that Conley finished the sexual act and then kicked the accuser out of the room.

Two witnesses in Conley’s room contradicted the woman’s description of events, according to police, one saying Conley “never touched” her, while the other said the two were “on the bed together, but nothing happened.” Conley’s attorney has called the accusations “ridiculous and ludicrous.” Conley has denied the allegations, calling them “completely false.”

Let’s go back to that scene in the elevator at 3 a.m. You’re Conley, and you’re less than three weeks away from realizing the dream of a lifetime: Your football skills are about to set you up financially for decades, if not forever. You’re going to be a top selection in the NFL draft. Does it get any better than that?

You’ve been told over and over again by your high school and college coaches, as well as the other adults in your life, to avoid trouble at all costs. You’ve probably been cautioned about this exact situation, being with people you don’t know in the middle of the night. Other than injury, there’s only one thing that can ruin your dream now, and that’s making a terrible decision.

Then you make a terrible decision.

In a statement released Wednesday, Conley admitted as much. “I realize that I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment.”

Two years ago, Collins was projected to be a first-round pick when, right before the draft, he was questioned by Louisiana state police in the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. By the time the case was closed, with Collins cleared, the draft had come and gone, and he had been left by the wayside. Collins later signed with the Dallas Cowboys and has started at left guard when not sidelined by injury, playing for millions less than he would have made had he been a first-round pick.

Because it’s unlikely Conley’s case will be resolved by Thursday night, he almost certainly will face a similar fate. What NFL team can risk using a first-round selection – or any choice for that matter – on a player who might be arrested for sexual assault within days?

Another NFL draft day is upon us. Another cautionary tale, too.


Gareon Conley: Rape allegation 'not true'

Former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley has spoken out about a rape accusation made against him, saying in a statement to ESPN's Josina Anderson that the claim is "completely false."

"I pride myself on doing things the right way on and off the field," Conley said. "The things being said about me and what happened that night are not true and don't fit my character at all. I realize that I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment. However, I have worked tirelessly to put myself in position to have the honor of being an NFL draft pick and these untrue allegations are putting a huge cloud over my name and the NFL Draft."

A woman has accused Conley of raping her in a Cleveland hotel earlier this month, according to Cleveland police. Conley has not been arrested nor have charges been filed against him as Cleveland police investigate the allegations. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia said investigators are making arrangements to interview Conley.

In the statement, Conley said he felt "powerless" as a result of the allegation.

"I am upset but realize that I am powerless when false accusations are made and people try to convict you in the court of public opinion," Conley said. "It's sad that your name can get dragged through the mud based upon untrue and malicious allegations alone."

According to a police report obtained by ESPN, the alleged incident occurred April 9. A 23-year-old woman told police she met Conley in the elevator of the downtown hotel and he brought her back to his hotel room. She alleges that after she declined an offer of group sex with Conley and two friends, Conley had sex with her then kicked her out of the room.

"I am upset but realize that I am powerless when false accusations are made and people try to convict you in the court of public opinion. It's sad that your name can get dragged through the mud based upon untrue and malicious allegations alone."
Gareon Conley, responding to a rape accusation made against him
The woman reported the incident and then went to a local hospital, where a rape kit was administered. But the woman also refused to speak to police, according to the report.

According to the police report, Conley's friends said nothing happened between Conley and his accuser and that she was angry he asked her to leave.

"There were several witnesses, including another female, who were present the entire time and have given statements that give an accurate account of what took place," Conley said. "We also have video evidence that further discredit and disprove other versions of these events."

Conley was No. 18 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s final Big Board for the NFL draft, which begins Thursday. Conley, 21, had been expected to be taken in the first round.

Based on the allegation, Conley said he does not plan to attend the draft.

"I was excited about participating in Thursday's draft, but I have decided that it would be selfish for me to stay and be a distraction to the NFL, the other players, and their families who have worked just as hard as me to enjoy the experience so I will not be in attendance," Conley said.

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