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WESTFIELD — Indianapolis Colts rookie linebacker Bobby Okereke on Saturday denied wrongdoing in the Title IX case of sexual assault that was filed against him in 2015 when he was at Stanford, citing the twice-issued ruling of the university’s in-house disciplinary board in the case.
Okereke, speaking on the matter for the first time since news of the allegation broke in June, maintains his innocence.
The third-round pick also cited his decision to reveal the nature of the incident to the Colts at the Senior Bowl. Okereke had not been publicly named at the time.
“Those were untrue allegations,” Okereke said. “I fully complied with the school investigation and was found not responsible. I informed the team about it during the pre-draft process.”
Bobby Okereke, a rookie linebacker from Stanford, on the third practice day of Colts Camp, at Grand Park, Westfield, Saturday, July 27, 2019. (Photo: Robert Scheer/IndyStar)
A New York Times report in 2016 revealed that the complainant decided not to file formal charges with the police in order to avoid the trauma of a police investigation, turning instead to the university’s in-house disciplinary board. Under the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, universities are required to carry out investigations of sex crimes on campus and empowered to deal out discipline.
According to the Times, Stanford’s board voted 3-2 in favor of the complainant in both cases, but Okereke was not disciplined because the school required a vote of at least 4-1 to find the accused responsible.
The Colts reviewed the Title IX investigation, interviewed Okereke at length about the incident and talked to several sources at Stanford about Okereke. They did not interview the complainant.
Ultimately, Indianapolis decided to pick Okereke despite the investigation.
“I don’t want to sit here and act like we don’t have sympathy for both sides,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in June, characterizing it as a “he-said, she-said” incident. “It happened four years ago, and because there were no (police) charges and no disciplinary action taken by the university, and because of his track record since, we felt comfortable drafting him.”
Ballard made team owner Jim Irsay aware of the allegations against Okereke before the draft, but took responsibility for the decision, saying it falls on him.
Okereke is not expected to be investigated by the NFL. Because the allegation was made years before he entered the league, it is not subject to the commissioner’s personal conduct policy.
“Right now, I’m just focused on making this team,” Okereke said. “Helping this team out like I can and moving forward.”