Jury finds Illinois basketball player not guilty of raping woman at Lawrence bar

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Post updated at 5:10 p.m. Thursday, June 13:

After only 90 minutes of deliberation, jurors Thursday afternoon found an Illinois basketball player not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Lawrence bar in September.

Terrence Shannon Jr., 23, had been accused of groping and digitally penetrating an 18-year-old woman without her consent at the Jayhawk Cafe (The Hawk), 1340 Ohio St. He had been charged with rape for engaging in intercourse with a person who did not consent or who was overcome by force or fear, or, in the alternative, one count of aggravated sexual battery.

Reactions were mixed after the verdict when court was dismissed. The woman who made the complaint walked out quickly with the woman who had accompanied her to the bar that night. They sat in the courtroom during closing arguments Thursday with the friend’s sister and mother. 

Shannon’s family and friends quickly surrounded him to hug and express relief. Moments after the verdict, Shannon’s mother, Treanette Redding, said the family was ready to move forward.

“It’s been a long road,” she said. “We’re just glad justice was served.”

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Defense attorney Mark Sutter hugs Terrence Shannon Jr.’s mother, Treanette Redding, after the verdict.

Also leaving the courtroom quickly after the verdict were Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez and Deputy DA Joshua Seiden, who were unable to serve as prosecutors on the case because of a scheduling conflict. Senior Assistant DA Ricardo Leal and Assistant DA Samantha Foster took over the case last week in place of Valdez and Seiden.

After the verdict, Leal said the DA’s office had no comment on the case. Outside the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, defense attorneys Tricia Bath and Mark Sutter said they were pleased with the outcome.

“It went as we hoped it would and it went as justice should,” Bath said. “T.J. (the defendant) wasn’t going to plead to anything because he did nothing wrong.”

Bath called the case against Shannon “a travesty” and said the verdict shouldn’t be a reflection on the work done by Leal and Foster. She said the change in prosecutors had no effect on the case because the evidence wasn’t there to support charges in the first place.

“Ultimately the result we got was the result that would have come no matter what,” she said.

Sutter said although there were no immediate plans to seek damages against anyone involved in the case, he and his colleagues were “planning to circle the wagons” and consider their options once he returns to Chicago.

“It’s something we’re going to explore,” he said.

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Terrence Shannon Jr. hugs defense attorney Tricia Bath after the jury finds him not guilty, June 13, 2024. Standing at left is Mark Sutter.

Shannon was the final witness to take the stand on Thursday, detailing the events of the evening and definitively denying that he touched his accuser or any other woman on the evening of Sept. 8 or in the early morning hours of Sept. 9.

“I never touched, pulled over, raped or sexually assaulted the alleged victim,” Shannon testified.

Testimony over three days broke down the events of the evening. On Thursday, Shannon said that he and a teammate intended to travel six hours from Champaign, Illinois, to Lawrence for the KU-Illinois football game on the evening of Sept. 8. The two men were accompanied by a graduate assistant whose job it was to be sure the basketball players traveled safely and returned in time for an athletic event the next morning.

Shannon said he met KU players Hunter Dickinson and Kevin McCullar, whom he knew through their basketball careers at various universities, at Memorial Stadium approximately 30 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. football game. After the game, Shannon, his teammate, and the graduate assistant traveled to McCarthy Hall where the three shot baskets and drank several shots of whiskey.

Sometime before 11 p.m., Shannon and his companions went to The Hawk with Dickinson, McCullar and several other KU players where they spent several hours in the bar’s basement Martini Room. It was just after midnight near a back wall in the Martini Room, the woman alleged in her testimony, that she was touched without consent.

Shannon said he and his Illinois companions left The Hawk around closing and then started their six-hour drive back to Champaign. It was after practice the next day, Shannon testified, that was told he had been accused of an incident “in the bathroom of the Jayhawk Cafe.”

Lawrence Police Detective Joshua Leitner, who was assigned as lead detective on the case, set up a time to speak with Shannon, but the call was canceled when Leitner was called to Florida on another case. Shannon said the call wasn’t rescheduled and he never spoke with Leitner.

Andrea Albright / Lawrence Times Terrence Shannon Jr. testifies during his jury trial, June 13, 2024 in Douglas County District Court.

In late September, Shannon was served with a search warrant, and officers took swabs from Shannon’s mouth to test for DNA. Shannon said during that process he noticed that his name was spelled wrong and that the warrant made no mention of a bathroom.

“It was like I know I’d never do anything like that to anybody,” Shannon said in court. “I thought that maybe it was the wrong person since my name was spelled wrong.”

Shannon, who is the eldest of eight children, told defense attorney Tricia Bath that his mother didn’t tolerate bad behavior. He said that prior to this incident he had never been charged with a crime. He said the one time he did have contact with authorities was in the fifth grade when he and a friend were caught trying to steal a bag of Snickers.

Bath asked Shannon if that had been a good night in his house.

“Not at all,” Shannon said.

Among the athletes with Shannon in the Martini Bar on Sept. 9 was Arterio Morris, who was briefly accused of a similar assault at the Hawk less than two weeks before Shannon visited Lawrence. An investigation into that incident was underway when allegations were made against Shannon.

The incident at The Hawk allegedly involving Morris, however, was set aside after he was charged Sept. 29 with raping an 18-year-old woman in his McCarthy Hall residence a month earlier. Morris was immediately dismissed from KU roster. The rape charge against Morris was dropped by the district attorney in April for insufficient evidence.

Prior to Shannon’s testimony, Illinois assistant basketball coach Tim Anderson took the stand to discuss his relationship with Shannon as a coach and mentor for the past 10 years.

Anderson called Shannon humble, shy, and reserved as a person. He said he “was crushed” when he heard the accusation and believed there had been some kind of mistake. The Shannon he knows, he said, is not the kind of person who would so such a thing. However, Anderson said he is also aware of the challenges that face athletes and young Black men in society.

“You can do everything to help someone and put them in the right situation,” Anderson said. “You can get them in the right place, but I’m more scared of the world when they go out the door.

“If you knew this guy, you wouldn’t …” he said before breaking down in tears.

Leal used his closing arguments to highlight the perks that come with being a Division 1 athlete. He said that although the alleged victim in the case was seeking normal college experiences, she came into contact with a person who was no longer used to being told no.

“She wanted that typical college time. Mr. Shannon is not a typical college student,” Leal said. “Nobody’s disputing that Mr. Shannon has worked hard to get where he is, but at this point, he gets what he wants.”

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal, standing, and Assistant DA Samantha Foster

Sutter highlighted the lack of physical evidence in the case as well as what he characterized as “little effort” by Leitner to investigate the case, calling Leitner “lazy” and “incompetent.”

Sutter said Shannon was fortunate to have the resources to hire attorneys and pay for investigators who were able to refute assertions made by police and the DA, and expert witnesses to analyze DNA and telephone data.

“This was a travesty, not a trial,” Sutter said. “The ones who are pursuing a case like this with little or no evidence need to be called out. In my opinion, a case like this should not have been charged at all.”

After the verdict, Shannon was released from his bond. He had remained out of custody for the duration of the case.

He is expected to be selected in the first or second round of the NBA draft later this month.

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Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Related coverage:

Jury finds Illinois basketball player not guilty of raping woman at Lawrence bar

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After only 90 minutes of deliberation, jurors Thursday afternoon found an Illinois basketball player not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Lawrence bar in September.

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times

KBI says DNA in rape case against Illinois basketball player was inconclusive; defense expert says it excludes defendant

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The jury trial of a University of Illinois basketball player accused of raping a woman in a Lawrence bar brought testimony from two of KU’s star players today, along with an analysis of the state’s physical evidence — or lack thereof — in the case.

Resources for survivors

If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.

Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
  • Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
  • After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
    • talking to an advocate,
    • going to the hospital,
    • making a police report,
    • and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
  • On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
  • Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Students can make an appointment by email, care@ku.edu, or by calling 785-864-9255. It’s free, confidential and voluntary to talk with the CARE Coordinator. All genders welcome. Read more here.
  • Find more KU campus resources at this link. Specific information about sexual assault exams can be found here.
  • Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance. (Note: CARE Sisters provide peer support and education, but this is not a 24/7 service like others listed here.)
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
  • Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
More resources
  • StrongHearts Native Helpline: Call 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) for 24/7 safe, confidential and anonymous domestic and sexual violence support for Native Americans and Alaska Natives that is culturally appropriate.
  • National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.

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