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Ex-Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. acquitted in rape case

Former University of Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. was acquitted Thursday of rape and sexual assault charges in a trial that included charges related to an incident that occurred near the University of Kansas campus in September.

Shannon, who was arrested in December, had been accused by an 18-year-old woman of grabbing her without her consent and performing a sexual act on her at a bar in the early hours of September 9th after the University of Illinois-University of Kansas football game in Lawrence, Kansas.

A Douglas County jury deliberated for 90 minutes Thursday before unanimously returning a verdict of not guilty of rape or aggravated sexual assault.

Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. shows off his wingspan while testifying at his rape trial, Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Lawrence, Kansas. AP

Shannon did not speak to reporters after the verdict. According to the Chicago TribuneBut while his lawyer Tricia Bess praised the jury for ultimately reaching the “right” verdict, she said it was a “travesty” that it took so long for justice to be “achieved”.

Attorney Mark Sutter said the public owes Shannon an apology.

Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. (center) receives a hug after being acquitted in his sexual assault trial. AP

“I think he’s received a lot of criticism from the court of public opinion and a lot of ridicule, but now that the jury has spoken, I think everyone owes him an apology,” he said.

Shannon, a promising NBA player, was suspended by the University of Illinois after the allegations and his December arrest, but a federal judge overturned the suspension, ruling that the basketball player’s civil rights had been violated.

The basketball player was visiting Kansas to watch a football game with several Kansas State basketball players and ended up at a bar called the Martini Room on the evening of Sept. 8.

University of Illinois coach Brad Underwood embraces Terrence Shannon Jr. as he leaves the game late in the second half after his team lost to Connecticut in the Elite Eight of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Getty Images

In his testimony, Shannon said he had only had a few drinks that night and remembered everything that happened, but that he only found out about the allegations several weeks later.

The woman told police that the man, later identified as Shannon, grabbed her buttocks and put his hands under her skirt.

“I was definitely uncomfortable,” the alleged victim testified at the trial. “I didn’t know why I was [walk away]…But I wish I had done that.”

University of Illinois basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. refers to a photo from the Martini Room, a bar inside the Jayhawk Cafe, while testifying in his trial, Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Lawrence, Kansas. AP

Shannon took the stand on Thursday and denied the charges made against him.

“I didn’t touch her, I didn’t grab her, I didn’t stop her car. That’s not what happened,” Shannon said on the witness stand.

Shannon is a possible first-round pick in the NBA Draft, which takes place June 26-27.

He averaged 23 points last season at Illinois, where the team reached the Elite Eight.

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