Griz QB allowed back at practice by legal misunderstanding, says woman's attorney

2012-03-28T21:45:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:18Z Griz QB allowed back at practice by legal misunderstanding, says woman's attorneyBy GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian missoulian.com
March 28, 2012 9:45 pm  • 

The lawyer representing a University of Montana student who accused Grizzlies starting quarterback Jordan Johnson of sexual assault believes the university’s decision to allow Johnson to resume spring drills with the team stems from a legal misunderstanding.

UM kept Johnson out of practice after the restraining order was filed, citing the section of the new Student-Athlete Conduct Code that imposes such sanctions when a student-athlete “is found to have engaged in conduct that is deemed inappropriate, reckless, inciting, or malicious which brings embarrassment to the team, the Department of Athletics, or the campus, community.”

The woman took out a temporary restraining order against Johnson on March 9, citing sexual assault as the reason. A police report filed March 16 alleges a Feb. 4 rape and the police investigation into that accusation continues. Through his attorney, David Paoli, Johnson has denied the allegation.

Last Friday, the restraining order was dismissed in favor of a civil no-contact order that forbids any contact between Johnson and the woman, and orders Johnson not to come within 1,500 feet of the woman or try to contact her – the same provisions in the temporary restraining order.

Johnson returned to practice Saturday. “When the TRO was dissolved, there really was nothing from a legal standpoint,” Jean Gee, UM’s senior associated athletic director, told the Missoulian.

“As I hope you recognize now, that statement is completely wrong,” Josh Van de Wetering, who represents Johnson’s accuser, wrote to Gee this week. Van de Wetering copied the letter to Johnson’s attorney David Paoli, as well as to the Missoulian.

Paoli said in an email Wednesday that he saw no benefit “to either of these young people to keep this in the press.” Neither Gee nor UM Vice President Jim Foley returned calls for comment Wednesday.

Van de Wetering wrote: “Whether or not Mr. Johnson is permitted to play football is not my client’s concern (though the head coach’s comments about Mr. Johnson’s superior character, even after knowing there is an active rape investigation proceeding against him, leaves my client less than confident in the university’s commitment to protect her and respect the court’s no-contact order).”

The day Johnson returned to practice, head coach Robin Pflugrad told the Missoulian that he welcomed the quarterback’s return and that “I think any time you have a person of Jordy’s character and tremendous moral fiber, and he’s your team captain and part of the leadership council, your players are going to be fired up.”

Van de Wetering wrote that the story in Sunday’s Missoulian that quoted Gee and Pflugard “suggests that the Athletic Department’s decision to reinstate Mr. Johnson is based at least in part on your misunderstanding of the legal process against Mr. Johnson,” and urged the university to review its conclusions.

Paoli said in his email Wednesday: “The no-contact order was a product of an agreement between the alleged victim’s personal attorney and myself, on behalf of my client. Her attorney and I met and worked out the terms and stipulated to them. As the stipulation and the order says, they have had no contact whatsoever, and don’t intend to have any.”

There’s no expiration date on the civil no-contact order, signed by Missoula Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Jenks. Any violation would be dealt with as contempt of court.

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or on Twitter @CopsAndCourts.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on Missoulian.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian (Missoulian.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in Missoulian.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on missoulian.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Search our events calendar