Tennessee defensive tackle Alexis Johnson, who just arrived on campus this spring as a junior college transfer, has been arrested for aggravated assault and false imprisonment. Shortly after his arrest last night, Tennessee announced his suspension from the football team:
The female victim is reportedly an ex-girlfriend, and the details in Dustin Dopirak's story are unpleasant:
The victim, who previously dated Johnson on two occasions, told police she was "play fighting" with him in the living room and the bedroom of his apartment sometime between 3-5 a.m. Sunday when the horseplay turned violent, according to arrest warrants. The episode escalated when the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Johnson placed his hand around the victim's throat, repeatedly choking her to the point that she could not fight back and felt she was going to pass out, warrants state. A witness said Johnson "appeared to be really punching her," and that the victim's lip was "busted," according to the warrants.
"The defendant attempted to repetitively touch and kiss her and she repeatedly stated that she did not want to have sex with him," the warrants state. "(The) victim attempted to leave the bedroom and said the defendant blocked the door prohibiting her exit. While doing so, the defendant stated, 'You think I won't (expletive) you up?' "
There is no such thing as a good time for something like this to happen. But from Tennessee's standpoint, Johnson's arrest on these charges will only fuel the fire surrounding the federal sexual assault suit filed last week against the university. Butch Jones in this case has followed his normal protocol by immediately suspending the player in question, and given the current temperature I don't think a dismissal in the next few days would catch anyone by surprise. I don't know how much or how little of an indictment of the culture one can have with a player who's been on campus for less than two months. But this story will no doubt be added to the whole, another negative impact on a culture that must seek to continually improve. I also don't know how eager Butch Jones or anyone else will be right now to stand and answer questions, or what their lawyers are encouraging them to do in light of the suit. But given the events of the week I will be curious to see if the university at least releases some kind of statement on all of this.