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Jury finds former Baylor football player Shawn Oakman not guilty of sexual assault

Shawn Oakman, shown here in February 2016, a few months before a woman accused him of sexual assault. (Gregory Payan/Associated Press)
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After deliberating for about two hours Thursday, a Texas jury found former Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman not guilty of raping a graduate student at his off-campus apartment in 2016.

Oakman was one of a number of Baylor football players accused of sexual assault — linebacker Tevin Elliott and defensive Sam Ukwuachu were convicted of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015, respectively — and the school’s handling of those incidents led to the downfall of Coach Art Briles and school president Kenneth Starr. The school also has settled numerous lawsuits with women who said they were raped by members of the school’s football team.

The woman in the Oakman case, who said she had had a previous sexual relationship with the football player, testified that she had been drinking before meeting Oakman at a campus-area bar in April 2016. After walking back to his apartment, she said Oakman wouldn’t allow her to leave and sexually assaulted her.

Oakman did not testify in the trial and previously had rejected what one of his attorneys called a “generous” plea deal from prosecutors, instead choosing to settle the matter in front of a jury. His attorneys claimed that the sex was consensual.

“There was just nothing to corroborate what she said because what she said was not true,” said Jessi Freud, one of Oakman’s attorneys. “This was always a consensual encounter.”

Oakman said he hoped to resume his football career and said the verdict vindicated the tarnished program.

“I’m feeling like a million bucks,” he said, per the Waco Tribune-Herald. “But it never was about me. It was about everybody who was around me. They slandered my name, they fired my coach. I felt like all that was on me. I was a leader of Baylor, of Waco, of the community that I was in and they took us down from the top.

“They took the best player off the field and they took the best coach out of the Big 12. We are coming to get everything back because everything is ours and it never should have been taken away. We built this program from the bottom up, and they tarnished it. They said we was this, they said we was that. But they all taught us better. Coach Briles, Judge Starr, they taught us better. We are not animals.”

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