A total of four Morehouse College athletes have been arrested and charged in connection with two separate sexual assaults.
Report of the incidents – and the possibility that one involved the illicit party drug, “Molly” – cast a cloud over a prestigious college set to host President Barack Obama as its graduation speaker later this month.
Three of the students were charged in an alleged on-campus incident prior to spring break. The fourth was charged in a different case off campus that was reported in March.
According to Fulton County Jail records, Chukwudi Ndudikwa, Malcolm Jamal Frank, Tevin Mgbo and Lucien Kidd were arrested last month.
Ndudikwa, Frank and Mgbo, all members of the school’s basketball team, were each arrested on April 11 for the incident that happened on Morehouse’s campus, according to incident reports.
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According to Morehouse College Police arrest warrants and incident reports, the three allegedly had non-consenting sex with an 18-year-old Spelman student who was “under the influence of an unknown substance.”
Lawyers for the accused men tell a story of a drug- and alcohol-fueled evening in which a young woman had consenting sex with the three Morehouse Maroon Tigers basketball players.
Frank, a junior, met the Spelman freshman at a nightclub, where they danced and then went to a party in a Morehouse dorm room, said Keith Adams, one of Frank’s lawyers.
According to police reports, the party of both male and female students was at the Otis Moss Suites residence hall in the 800 block of Parsons Street.
Mgbo was charged with sodomy, kidnapping and reckless conduct in the alleged April 8 attack, according to police reports.
Frank and Ndudikwa were each charged with sodomy and multiple counts of rape, police said.
The lawyer for Ndudikwa, Jackie Patterson, said he never touched the woman during the “gathering” at a dorm room.
A Morehouse College Police affidavit obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the Fulton County Superior Court clerk gave witness accounts of what happened that night. One witness said the woman didn’t seem to recognize people, even calling the witness by the wrong name repeatedly during the night, according to the police affidavit.
Another witness who knew the woman said, “(The woman’s) state of mind seemed like she was drunk but she knew what she was doing. … The public sex was the only thing different in this behavior.”
And while the woman and other witnesses acknowledged that she’d been drinking before the incident, one witness told police that the woman had consumed a white powdery drug the witness called “Marley.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration describes a similarly named drug called “Molly” that is a high-purity, powdered form of the illegal amphetamine MDMA or Ecstasy, and can induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, and diminished anxiety.
According to police, the girl woke up the morning after the incident in a strange room in Otis Moss Suites and went to find friends in the dorm who called her mother and then took her to Grady Memorial Hospital.
The girl’s mother reported the incident to Morehouse police.
Frank, Mgbo and Ndudikwa appeared before a student conduct hearing on campus after the arrest warrants were issued the morning of April 11, according to police. They were later booked into the Fulton County jail.
Kidd, a football player and former Georgia State student, according to Channel 2, was arrested on April 18 for a separate incident.
A woman accused him of forcing himself sexually on her at a location in the Mechanicsville area near campus, despite her efforts to physically stop him.
Kidd was charged with one count of rape, jail records show, and had been arrested in January for battery and destruction of property.
Each of the four men was released from jail on $10,000 bond, according to jail records.
For the past couple of years, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has cracked down on campus sexual assaults by reminding colleges they must address this issue under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Students from several colleges – including Occidental College, Swathmore University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – have filed Title IX complaints over how the colleges responded when students reported attacks.
Morehouse students say there was no written notice, but an assembly was called in which notice was given of the allegation and a reminder levied that it was not proper behavior.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors called for clearer policies, including more coherent reporting procedures.
And in February, it was revealed that Curry College in Massachusetts waited almost a week before telling the campus that a gang rape had been reported in a dorm.
Even at Morehouse, the recent rape accusations are not the first time the school has been in the spotlight. In 2006, more than 150 Spelman College students protested on campus the alleged rapes of two students that they said were covered up and ignored by college officials.
News of the alleged rapes comes in the wake of what could have been a glowing period for Morehouse College.
In November, the school named John Silvanus Wilson Jr., a 1979 graduate of the college and the former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as its 11th president.
The basketball team – for which Ndudikwa, Frank and Mgbo each played sparingly – finished the season with a 20-8 record, losing in the finals of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
But it also comes less than three weeks before Morehouse hosts President Obama at its May 19 graduation. It would be the first time a sitting president has spoken at the Morehouse graduation and the school has been touting the event as a major breakthrough since February.
Just last week, news surfaced that the Rev. Kevin R. Johnson, the senior pastor of Philadelphia’s Bright Hope Baptist Church, had his invitation to speak at the May 18 baccalaureate revoked because of an unflattering editorial he wrote in a Philadelphia newspaper that criticized Obama about his lack of black cabinet appointees.
A group of Morehouse alumni has lobbied for Wilson to allow Johnson, who is also a Morehouse graduate, to speak.
But in a statement to the Morehouse community, where he wanted to “increasingly focus our attention on important matters to the exclusion of distractions,” Wilson denied “dis-inviting” Johnson. Instead, he asked Johnson to speak on a different format that would include two other speakers. Johnson, he said, refused.
“To my chagrin, my decision has been wrongly construed by some as an effort to “dis-invite” this individual. He was not dis-invited, but rather declined to participate in the format,” Wilson said. “Worse yet, this decision has led to allegations of censorship, which of course has no place in any viable academic institution. These allegations are fundamentally deleterious and are undeserved… This matter is not and has never been about censorship.”
When directly questioned Tuesday about campus rape arrests, Morehouse police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there had been no such charges in the month of April.
Morehouse College officials did not return phone calls about the incidents and would not speak on specifics. But in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, they acknowledged that there were “two alleged assault incidents involving Morehouse students,” in March and that the school is working with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
“After the information was brought to the attention of campus police, the suspects were identified and arrested.”
“While we cannot speak to specifics of these cases, our policies and procedures call for disciplinary actions against students who violate our code of conduct and the law, up to and including dismissal from the college,” read the statement, which came from the Morehouse College Office of Communications.
The statement also indicated that when campus police were notified of the incidents, the students were identified and arrested.
“Morehouse has a zero tolerance policy related to violence of any kind,” the statement included. “Violence is the very antithesis of the Morehouse ethos and the values of a Morehouse Man.”
— Staff reporter Steve Visser contributed to this article.