'For 18 months, I had been accused of crimes I did not commit': Former Duquesne University basketball player talks about rape charges being dropped

February 27, 2019

 

Nick Washington had just started living his dream -- an academic scholarship and a spot on the Duquesne University basketball team.

 

Two weeks after arriving on campus, he was off the team and charged with rape.

 

Two years later, the charge was dropped. Now, Washington is telling his side of the story and what he says happened in his dorm room that night.

 

"I was crushed emotionally, disappointed, embarrassed," he says.

 

Washington is now 21. His life recently has been very different from what he imagined.

 

"For 18 months, I had been accused of crimes that I did not commit," he said.

 

The accusation that altered Washington's life came just one month into his time at Duquesne. Washington said he had been spending much of that time training with the basketball team.

 

On Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, Washington said he went to a party on the South Side with a female Pitt student and everything changed.

 

"When we got to the party, she and I talked. We took pictures, kissed ... we decided to take an Uber back to my dorm," Washington said. "Once we got to the dorm, I signed her in at the front desk. There's a sign-in process. We took an elevator ride up. We made out in the elevator, got back to my room, we talked and kissed some more and had consensual sex."

 

Washington said he walked the student downstairs, where she and her friend again got into an Uber and went back to Pitt's campus.

 

"Hours later, I was asleep in bed. Police come knocking at my door," he said. "I opened it, surprised. I had no idea what they were doing there."

 

Court papers show that the woman who had been in Washington's dorm went to the hospital after telling friends she was sexually assaulted. The reports show that she refused to talk to police or a counselor, and that she did not want press charges at the time.

 

At the Duquesne Towers, Washington said police asked to search his dorm.

 

"They asked me questions. They read me my rights. I waived them all," he said. "I answered questions, took DNA swabs, they took pictures of my room and I consented to all of it."

 

Fifty-nine days later, the police were back.

 

"They came and picked me up and took me to jail," Washington said.

 

Charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual assault, Washington spent a couple of days in Allegheny County Jail before posting bail.

 

"I sat in a cell on a bench for the whole two days," he said.

 

When Washington was released, he says he was no longer a student at Duquesne -- his scholarship revoked and his plans to play ball over.

 

Pittsburgh's Action News 4 reached out to Duquesne officials to confirm Washington's timeline.

 

"The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits the university from disclosing this information," Duquesne spokeswoman Rose Ravasio said in a statement.

 

In the year and a half that followed, Washington fought the charges at each court hearing.

 

On the Thursday before trial, prosecutors offered to drop the rape charge and all felony counts against Washington if he and his accuser agreed, his defense attorney says.

 

"The plea really came out of nowhere," attorney Kerry Verdi said. "I was very surprised. We had not asked for one."

 

The deal meant Washington had to plead guilty to disorderly conduct.

 

"Despite how confident we felt about this trial and about Nick, at the end of the day, you can never guarantee what's going to happen at a trial, and the risks were so very great," Verdi said.

 

On Feb. 4, Washington took the plea. He was given one year of probation and thought that was the end -- until his accuser read her victim impact statement in open court, claiming that she had to settle for this decision and announcing that she will never forgive him.

 

Washington and his attorneys were stunned by her words, now that Washington was no longer charged with rape.

 

"The foundation of our criminal justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and Nick Washington has always been innocent," Verdi said. "He was innocent when he was charged, he was innocent when all of those charges were dropped, and despite her words, he remains innocent."

 

"I'm going to try to put it past me as much as I can, and try to stay positive and move forward," Washington said.

 

Washington's accuser did not respond to a request for comment for this report. She is no longer a Pitt student and does not live in Pennsylvania.

 

See more including a video of this interview at: https://www.wtae.com/article/former-duquesne-university-basketball-player-talks-about-rape-charge-being-dropped/26523512

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