Derrick Washington stands trial

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Former Missouri running back Derrick Washington joked about a sexual encounter with a former tutor who says she was sexually assaulted by him in her sleep, prosecutors said Tuesday at the start of his trial.

Washington jokingly made a crude remark about the encounter to the ex-tutor's roommate, a woman with whom the one-time Tiger co-captain had a casual sexual relationship, assistant Boone County prosecutor Andrea Hayes told jurors during her opening statement in Washington's trial on a felony charge of deviate sexual assault.

One of Washington's attorneys, Chris Slusher, however, denied that Washington had any sort of sexual encounter with the woman and said the assault accusations were made up by the woman and her roommate.

Washington was Missouri's leading rusher as a sophomore and junior before the accusations surfaced in the summer of 2010. He was allowed to keep his scholarship after being kicked off the team by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel days before the start of what would have been his senior season. Washington soon withdrew from school and moved home to Kansas City.

Washington's accuser is a 24-year-old Missouri graduate who spent two semesters as his athletic department tutor before the alleged assault. She was identified by name in court, but The Associated Press generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault. The woman's moved out-of-state after the incident.

She testified Tuesday that she was asleep in the off-campus apartment she shared with three female Missouri students when an unidentified intruder entered her darkened bedroom on June 18, 2010, and sexually assaulted her. The assailant did not speak, and the woman said she could not clearly identify him.

Washington was visiting the ex-tutor's roommate at the time and acknowledged going into the other woman's room and initiating the sexual encounter, prosecutors said.

But Slusher told jurors the woman's accusation was false, her judgment was clouded by heavy alcohol use and both she and her roommate "had some hard feelings" about Missouri athletics and the school's high-profile athletes.

"Saying something doesn't make it true," Slusher said.

The woman acknowledged having seven beers earlier that night. Slusher said bar receipts suggest the woman's alcohol intake was closer to 10 to 12 drinks.

Washington's former tutor said that after the assault, she remained in her bedroom, frightened, until she heard the front door shut.

"I've never been so scared in my life," she testified. "I had no idea what to do."

The woman described a "sexually inappropriate environment" in the University of Missouri's program that pairs student-athletes with student tutors, many of whom are women.

Slusher suggested her disapproval and resentment over players she derisively called "children-athletes" fueled the false accusations against the Missouri football star.

He also said the woman's roommate, who remained in a consensual sexual relationship with Washington after the alleged incident, had falsely accused another Missouri athlete of sexual misconduct. And the defense attorney pointed out that the tutor never complained to her bosses about inappropriate comments or conduct by Washington or other Missouri athletes.

"The University of Missouri police department didn't explore these potential motives or hard feelings against athletes, but we think you should," Slusher told jurors in his opening statement.

Washington also faces a Sept. 30 hearing on two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence involving an ex-girlfriend who accused Washington of poking her eyes and choking her during an argument, charges that surfaced soon after the felony filing. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Attorneys initially suggested the sexual assault could conclude after two days, but a lengthy jury selection process delayed its scheduled start for several hours Tuesday.


Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at http://twitter.com/azagier