Ernest Suttles, a former University of Memphis defensive lineman charged with rape, entered a plea of not guilty in court Monday.
Suttles, wearing a dark suit and tie, responded only “Yes Sir” when General Sessions Division 10 Judge William Turner asked if he understood the rape charge.
Suttles, 23, is accused of raping a woman Oct. 12 at his home in the 3000 block of Douglass Avenue. He was arrested Saturday just hours before U of M was set to play Navy at the Liberty Bowl. Suttles was dismissed from the football team soon after his arrest.
Attonery Blake Ballin is representing Former U of M lineman Ernest Suttles accused of rape. Ballin says his client denies the allegations and pleaded not guilty in first court appearance Monday.
Yolanda Jones/The Commercial Appeal
In court Monday, Suttles was ordered by the judge to stay away from the victim and be fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet for monitoring. His preliminary hearing was set for December 5.
The victim told police that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Suttles for approximately two months, according to the affidavit of complaint. She told police that she went to visit Suttles at his home last Thursday where she alleged that he raped her.
Suttles did not speak with reporters, but his attorney, Blake Ballin reiterated that his client was not guilty of the alleged assault.
“This is something that is not in his character. This is something that did not happen and I’m confident his name will be cleared,” Ballin said.
Ballin said Suttles and the woman he is accused of raping have been in a consensual relationship for the past few months.
“Again any time the two of them have been together it has always been consensual. There has been no rape. I think the surrounding facts and circumstances as to why she would make these accusations will come to light,” Ballin said.
He said Suttles is focused on dealing with the rape charges and completing his education.
After his arrest, Suttles was suspended from the team and the U of M’s graduate school MBA program, his attorney said.
“He is frankly worried about his freedom obviously, but also pretty broken up about being kicked out of school. The football team issue will resolve itself but he absolutely denies these allegations.”
Suttles’ arrest comes in the wake of on-campus protests last week against rape and sexual assault.
A student told the school newspaper, the Daily Helmsman, that she was raped twice in 20 days earlier this year in separate off-campus incidents.
Nicholas Wayman, a 20-year-old U of M student, has been charged with rape and sexual battery in one of the incidents, which allegedly occurred sometime between March 30 and April 3 at a home in Arlington.
University President M. David Rudd and other school leaders are hosting a two-hour public forum on Wednesday from 8-10 p.m. focusing on sexual assault and rape on college campuses.
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