Knoxville Police Chief Dave Rausch said that no investigations were compromised by “courtesy notifications” made to University of Tennessee officials, but the practice of alerting coaches and administrators of possible legal trouble for athletes is over.
Phone records acquired by MJ Slaby of the Knoxville News-Sentinel showed that Vols coach Butch Jones was made aware of a rape investigation against former Tennessee players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams by police.
Tennessee assistant district attorney Sean McDermott didn’t specifically comment on the calls between Jones and the Knoxville Police Department, but said that such calls could be illegal, as disclosure of sensitive information isn’t to be shared if it doesn’t advance a criminal investigation.
“After reviewing our long-standing practice of courtesy notifications to the University of Tennessee administration of incidents involving UT students, it is clear that no investigations were compromised or improper information provided,” Rausch said in a statement released Friday to the News-Sentinel.
“But in the interest of transparency and to alleviate any appearance of conflict of interest, we have changed the previous practice, to ensure that investigators focus without hindrance on finding the facts and bringing justice to victims of crime.
“Going forward, in any incident involving a student at the University, KPD will make formal notification only to UT law enforcement, as required by state law and as part of our ongoing interdepartmental cooperation.”
Johnson and Williams are charged with aggravated rape and for aiding and abetting aggravated rape, but their criminal trials are on hold.