LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A special prosecutor has decided not to file charges against three Arkansas basketball players accused of rape, citing insufficient evidence.
A university freshman had accused the players of raping her Aug. 27 at a fraternity house party, but local authorities decided against charges. Special prosecutor H.G. Foster was assigned to review the case, but he came to a similar conclusion and disclosed it Friday.
"Based upon the investigation of the University of Arkansas Police Department, tests and reports of the Arkansas State Crime Lab, and other information developed in the case, it is my finding that there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of a criminal charge," Foster said in a letter to Circuit Judge William Storey.
The players in question -- Marcus Britt, Glenn Bryant and Nick Mason -- released a statement through attorney John Everett. They said Britt and Bryant voluntarily took and passed polygraph tests in December -- and that DNA testing showed the three didn't commit the acts they were accused of.
Foster declined comment, but a case file provided by the special prosecutor contained a report from the state Crime Lab saying DNA from the three athletes did not match samples from items submitted from a rape kit.
The players were suspended from the team at the beginning of the season for violating unspecified team rules.
"We were guilty of conduct unbecoming of a Razorback student-athlete and have accepted the punishment that came with those actions. However, we did not commit the widely reported acts of which we have been accused," the players said. "We genuinely believe that we are due an apology from the accuser though we harbor no great expectations of that happening."
The accuser's family released a statement through John Bass, its attorney.
"There is a strong and clear need for systemic change in how certain criminal investigations are conducted on the University of Arkansas campus. This is particularly true in cases involving the potential for substantial negative implications for the university's revenue-generating activities," the family said.
"The family has exhausted all remedies available to them through the criminal justice system and shall not seek alternative relief."
The school defended the investigation.
"The family of the accuser has questioned the manner in which the University of Arkansas Police Department conducts investigations. These questions are without basis," the university said in a statement. "The University of Arkansas Police Department conducted a thorough investigation of this case as reflected by the separate and independent determinations of the Washington County prosecutor's office and Special Prosecutor H.G. Foster."
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said the school is ready to move forward and that the reputations of the student-athletes "falsely accused should be restored."
"For the past five months, these young men and our program have been scrutinized in the court of public opinion based primarily upon unsupported allegations and speculation," coach John Pelphrey said. "I believe that the review conducted by the special prosecutor unequivocally demonstrates that these student-athletes did not commit any crime."