Jurors returned with a not guilty verdict on the extensive case of former Baylor standout Shawn Oakman’s sexual assault trial Wednesday afternoon, as Oakman’s supporters jubilantly cheered in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, according to a report from John Carroll and Paul J. Gately of KWTX-TV News 10.
While at Baylor, the former Bears’ pass rusher was accused of sexually assaulting another student in 2016. Oakman was promptly arrested 10 days later, after authorities executed a search warrant for Oakman’s arrest on April 13, 2016, but Oakman declared the alleged sexual assault as consensual sex.
The case came at a time where the program faced serious sanctions from the NCAA, as Baylor University regents fired head football coach Art Briles after hearing a scathing review of the university’s handling of sexual assaults involving football players.
“They fired my coach and I feel all that was on me,” said Oakman “We built this program from the bottom up and they tarnished us. We aren’t animals, we’re good people.”
Deliberations went underway at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday and jurors returned the verdict on 4:30 p.m.
Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback, Heisman winner and former Baylor Bear Robert Griffen III took to social media to express his happiness for his former teammate’s case victory.
McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson said he respects the jury’s decision. “We are disappointed in the verdict of course, but we respect the criminal justice system and we believe in the jury system,” he said.
During closing arguments before deliberations began Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Robert Moody told the jury, “This victim carries with her this pain every single day. Justice demands you find the defendant guilty.”
Oakman’s attorney, Jessi Freud, said to jurors, “The burden of proof is on the state and they have failed to prove their case. Everyone’s testimony on both sides say she was not intoxicated. The victim is the only one saying she was intoxicated….They were together because they wanted to be. They had consensual sexual intercourse,” she told the jury.
“Find Shawn Oakman not guilty,” he said.
Prosecutor Hilary LaBorde closed out final arguments by telling the jury, “You saw the victim, she had trauma, she has done everything she can do to stop it from happening again by testifying even though she couldn’t even look at that man,” as she pointed at Oakman.
Earlier Thursday, the defense called three of Oakman’s friends to the stand Thursday morning.
Pat Levels testified that Oakman was at the campus area club Scruffy Murphy’s for a going away party. “We knew the (NFL) draft was coming up and he was a big star.” He said he saw the victim and Oakman standing together at the club.
He said the woman did not appear to be intoxicated.
Oakman’s roommate, Chris Sanders, said that he walked back to the home he and Oakman shared with Oakman and the woman and then left, saying he wasn’t in the residence at the time of the alleged incident. The state called a final witness Thursday morning before the defense presented its case.
The victim of the alleged assault was visibly distraught and bawling during nearly an hour of the testimony Wednesday afternoon. She testified she was intoxicated when she left the campus-area club Scruffy Murphy’s with Oakman in the early morning hours after her alleged assault and said she couldn’t even remember the walk to his duplex two blocks away. She said she remembered a small portion of what happened in the next few hours.
She never looked at Oakman while on the witness stand.
“I remember being on his front porch, then being pushed into his bedroom.” she testified. “I then remember my head being pushed into the bed and his hands around my neck during the alleged assault.”
The former defensive end was a two-time All-Big 12 selection who still ranks first on Baylor’s all-time sacks list and second on the school’s all-time tackles for loss list. Oakman was the third Baylor football player to be tried for sexual assault in the past five years.
Tevin Elliott, a former defensive end was sentenced to two concurrent 20-years prison terms and a $10,000 fine in January 2014 after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault. On Aug. 20, 2015, Samuel Ukwuachu, a one-time All-American who transferred to Baylor that never played for the school was found guilty of raping a female Baylor soccer player in October 2013.
Ukwuachu was looking at more than 20 years behind bars for the sexual assault of an 18-year old student who played soccer at Baylor, but jurors decided to give the former Baylor Bear probation instead. He had already served 180 days in county jail and 400 hours of community service.
Ukwuachu was released from jail on a $100,000 appeal bond on Oct. 29, 2015.
On March 23, 2017, the Waco-based 10th Court of Appeals reversed the decision, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later reinstated it and sent it back to the 10th Court where arguments are still pending.