A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKU student says she was physically assaulted by four men’s basketball players; fears ‘repercussions’


By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Four Northern Kentucky University Men’s Basketball players were named in an assault and sexual abuse complaint filed by a female student for an incident that occurred in Newport on March 19 after a fraternity party.

A police incident report says the female student says she was punched by all four men, in an assault identified in the report as “third degree sexual abuse.”

She declined to seek criminal charges, fearing “repercussions because the suspects were on the basketball team.”

The NKU men’s basketball team plays in NCAA Division 1’s 10-team Horizon League; its regular season ended in late February and its post-season play ended March 5.

NKU abruptly moved from the Atlantic Sun conference in 2015 and completed its transition to Division 1 this year. The Horizon League Board of Directors approved NKU’s application to join in May, 2015. NKU subsequently reached a $1.22 million settlement with the Atlantic Sun Conference in May.

Johnson

Todd Johnson

The Newport police report identifies Todd L. Johnson II, as suspected of causing possible internal injury to the victim (later identified as a broken rib). Jeffery L. Garrett Jr. was identified as possibly causing minor injury.

The report also indicates a potential criminal offense of Sexual Abuse-Third Degree, presumably related to grabbing and squeezing the victim’s breast and throwing her to the steps of the bus. The victim identified that person as Johnson.

In an unrelated incident in December 2015, Johnson was suspended from the NKU men’s basketball team after being charged with driving under the influence and being arrested by a Highland Heights police officer. After the suspension, Johnson was later reinstated.

The two other men named in the incident report were not identified as suspects in any of the charges indicated.

According to the complainant, who is not being named, she attended a party put on by the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity on March 19 at the Thompson House on Third Street in Newport.

The Thompson House is an historic landmark music venue in Newport; it offers the Rockstar Lounge, Heaven Parlor, Tommygun Theater, Lobby Bar and The Shooting Gallery and hosts a variety of musical events. It is across the street from Newport on the Levee.

The complainant says that she was getting on a bus to return to campus from the 10 block of East Third Street in Newport after leaving the TKE party, when she was pushed from behind, causing her to fall on the stairs of the bus.

She states that when she turned around to see who pushed her, Suspect 1, identified as Johnson, grabbed her right breast and started pulling and squeezing it.

When he refused to let go, the complainant states she punched him in the face — and then all four men attacked her — “punching her with closed fists on her legs, stomach and ribs.”

The complainant is identified as blonde, 5-feet-4 inches tall. Her largest alleged attacker is identified as 6-feet-8 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds.

All those involved had come from the TKE party, though none are members of the fraternity.

The complainant indicates a person unknown to her pulled her away and took her to the rear of the bus for safety. She indicates she sustained internal bruising and a fractured rib as a result of the assault — and required medical care.

She also said that TKE President Dalton Arbuckle, an NKU student, intervened and did not allow the suspects onto the bus.

Arbuckle told the NKyTribune that he helped separate the participants in the incident and sent the men back to campus in a cab. He said he did not personally witness the incident, but that the police report is consistent with the accounts he was given.

Garrett

Garrett

“I saw the backlash from it as everybody was getting on the bus and her reaction afterward,” Arbuckle said. “I did not actually see anything as far as what they were being accused of.”

Arbuckle said he did not contact police because he believed the incident had been resolved, but he did report it to the NKU Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy, as required.

“The Conduct office brought in me and three other guys and we told them what we saw,” Arbuckle said. “They told us they were going to file a report with the NKU Police.”

A search of the NKU Police Department daily crime log does not show a record of any report that matched the incident in the weeks after March 19. The log reportedly includes both on-campus and offsite activity.

The Tribune reached out to the Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy this morning and was referred to University legal counsel. The Tribune is awaiting a response to a call to that office. The Tribune also reached out to NKU Athletic Director Ken Bothof this morning and are awaiting a response to that call as well.

An NKU spokesperson contacted the Tribune this morning and asked for specific questions the Tribune wanted answers to. Those questions were provided and the spokesperson provided a response this afternoon.

NKU’s spokesperson did say that Johnson has “graduated and is no longer a member of the men’s basketball team.”

According to the incident report, the complainant reported the alleged assault on March 26 and the case was closed on April 2.

Newport Police Chief Tom Collins said he doesn’t know if this incident was reported to the NKU Administration or Police Department, but said the Newport Police Department has a good rapport with the university.

“It kind of depends on the circumstances whether we report an incident or not,” Collins said. “When a victim doesn’t want to pursue it, the case becomes more difficult, but I don’t know why we wouldn’t have shared it with them.”

Collins added that, since the case remained open for a week, it’s likely there was some communication with NKU, but he hasn’t specifically talked with his department’s investigating officer.

Arbuckle, however, confirmed that NKU officials did know about the incident, questioned him and others about it, and indicated a report would be filed with NKU police. No such report could be found.

There have been no reports that any of the students involved were disciplined by the NKU Administration or the Athletic Department.

The men’s basketball team completed its season March 5, with a loss to Milwaukee, two weeks before the incident occurred.


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12 Comments

  1. Troy Hopkins says:

    This latest NKU assault is unacceptable. Why was Todd Johnson on the basketball team to begin with last season? Same with Tyler White. Both were involved in another “incident” the previous spring and the athletic director and president both knew. Ken Bothof should be fired, and he should be arrested for his part in this. So should Geoff Mearns. NKU’s public safety is a bunch of hired henchmen who don’t go by the law, as the slew of reports in recent days shows. They don’t care about girls getting assaulted, just protect the basketball team. Time for changes out there.

  2. Don Terry says:

    This is simply terrible–NKU’s administration is protecting their athletes and allowing them to get away with assault (and more). People (students, staff, and faculty) are all too afraid to talk about it – because they worry about retribution from the administration. More of the same from the corrupt admin. at NKU–Mearns and Co. are the worst for our students and for our institution. Another cover up is not a surprise, sadly. People need to come forward and stand up to take back our institution! Students should be protected and safe and free to speak their minds–staff and faculty should be allowed to do the same.

  3. Ralph Allen says:

    This is ridiculous and obscene. Young Caucasian women are quick to try an pull the trigger on any African American male who is doing good for hisself. Obviously the police felt that this wasn’t meant to be a case after interviewing and investigating. The police are shady, the young women is shady, and the entire situation just another attempt to destroy the black man’s name! First off I am completely disgusted at the first comment so Mr. Hopkins can sit down and read a book. 2nd this article needs to be taken down immediately.

    • Vince Ryan says:

      Mister Allen: For you to try and made this a race issue shows how ignorant you are. A girl was assaulted by four guys. NKU fails to take action. Your okay with that it sounds like. I am disgusted with your comments

  4. Troy Hopkins says:

    The comments by Mr. Allen about my comments are dumb, because I am African American and I find the behavior of these athletes ridiculous. I don’t care what color this young girl was they assaulted. Why do you care what race she is? How do you know she is white? Todd Johnson should never have been allowed back on the team last year for numerous reasons. Ken Bothof has a track record of being shady at Green Bay, I know cause I lived there for a while. His coach named Wardle abused players and Bothof did nothing. They were going to fire Bothof at Green Bay and so he jumped at the NKU job. Now you see the same shady things going on at NKU just like Green Bay. This is not about race, like Mr. Allen tried to make it. This is about shady people like Bothof and Mearns covering up things to make themselves look good.

  5. Kurt Newbauer says:

    I have been a fan of NKU sports since I was a kid. This hurts to read a story like this, I thought T. Johnson was a good dude. My favorite player is Dean Danos, but the other day I heard he was removed from the team to be placed as a manager because Coach John Brannen needed another scholarship to give to another recruit. It hurts to see Dean Danos a four year senior treated this way. Some of the people say Ken Bothof told the medical people to say Dean has a injury so they can still give him money to finish school which is good. I say good luck to Clean Dean, but it will not be the same without seeing him on the court. I hope Coach John Brannen can see in his heart to let Dean dress on senior day so he can play, he deserves a shot as a senior.

  6. Vince Ryan says:

    This is why NKU should have not hired John Brannen, yes he was just the 3rd our 4th choice when no one else would take the job. He is a bad coach, worse at handling players and assistant coaches. His top two assistants from last year were ready to quit before the season was over and they left right after.

    If Brannen did take away Dean Danos scholarship he should be placed under the microscope. Brannen’s first season at NKU was a disaster. He promised run and gun basketball, and they played slow and slower as season went on. Having players assaulting girls is worse than his coaching faults. Brannen was a good player at Newport Central Catholic but he is not a college coach. Bad coaching runs in that family as his brother Grant is even worse at Walton Verona. I want to hear more about Dean Danos and why he is not on the team. I looked at their roster and is he not on it. Why

  7. John Doe says:

    I would like to comment on Mr Allen’s post. The only thing ridiculous and obscene is you. You weren’t there. You have no idea what happened. You weren’t there at the hoslital to see the pain of a fractured rib and bruised pelvic area. Bruised legs and arms from 4 grown men beating on her. How dare you say anything negative about that poor girl and then bring race into the discussion? She did nothing to cause their actions. She is a good hearted person that would do anything for anyone,regardless of race. That is how she was raised. I should know,Im her father.

    • Judy Clabes says:

      Thank you for this and for weighing in on the very real hurt done to this young woman. The Newport police confirmed the harm done to her, and the police report was clear. The police further confirmed that she had every cause to press charges but “feared repercussions” because they were NKU basketball players. Instead of questioning the young woman’s story — and ignoring the physical harm she suffered, people should be asking, “why would she fear repercussions?”

    • Kurt Newbauer says:

      I agree with you and hope your daughter is all right. My man Clean Dean Danos was not one of the jerks involved but they take away his spot on the team. John Brannen should be let go for taking away Clean Dean’s spot, forcing him to be a manager is not right. The whole NKU brass should be fired.

  8. Coach Jones says:

    Dean Danos plain and simple was not good enough to play at this level. I watched him many games and he shot several air balls each game. He just didn’t have what it took to play at this level. It’s not unusual for coaches to clean house and get new players because the coaches head is on the line. Why go down with some other coaches players. The previous coach was fired because he had mediocre players, and Dean unfortunately was one of them. It is what it is. If you’re head is on the line, would you have kept him? I wouldn’t have. Nor would anyone who saw him play at this level. Not a good enough shooter, too small to guard, and not a great ball handler. The coach did the right thing!

  9. Coach Jones says:

    He averaged 3.3 ppg……67% free throw percentage….jr year…..that speaks for itself as to why he’s not on the team. Upper classman need to contribute.

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