Washington gets five years

COLUMBIA (AP) — Former University of Missouri football running back Derrick Washington was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for the off-campus sexual assault of a former tutor, but the one-time senior captain may spend significantly less time behind bars.

Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane sentenced Washington two months after a Columbia jury found him guilty of forcibly fondling the sleeping woman in June 2010.

Washington had faced a punishment of up to seven years in prison, a sentence sought by prosecutors. But he could now be released after 120 days in a “shock incarceration” program, while remaining on probation for the duration of his five-year sentence.

Washington, who was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, did not speak during the brief hearing other than to acknowledge the judge’s decision. His attorney and family members declined comment afterward.

A Kansas City prep star, Washington was Missouri’s leading rusher as a sophomore and junior until he was kicked off the team before his senior year after the accusations surfaced. He was allowed to keep his scholarship but withdrew from school.

Defense attorney Chris Slusher, arguing for probation before the judge issued the sentence, said Washington harbored NFL dreams and was projected as a fourth-round draft pick before he was charged. He’s now a registered sex offender who won’t be able to coach youth sports teams or even visit his own child’s school without permission, Slusher said.

“No matter what the court does today, Mr. Washington has already been punished,” he said. “Those (NFL) dreams are likely done.”

In arguing for the maximum sentence, assistant Boone County prosecutor Andrea Hayes said Washington has not apologized to the 24-year-old victim nor acknowledged any wrongdoing in the case.

“The defendant has yet to take responsibility for his actions,” she said. “He’s a predator.”

Washington also is scheduled to stand trial in late December on two misdemeanor domestic assault charges in an unrelated case. A former girlfriend has accused him of poking her eyes and choking her during an argument.

The former tutor previously testified Washington entered her bedroom while she slept at her off-campus apartment. Washington was visiting the victim’s roommate, also a former tutor for Missouri athletes, with whom he shared a consensual sexual relationship.

His accuser is a Missouri graduate who spent two semesters as his athletic department tutor before the alleged assault. She was publicly identified in court, but the Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault. The woman moved out of state after the incident. Her roommate also testified about the encounter.

At trial, the victim described a “sexually inappropriate environment” in the University of Missouri program that pairs student-athletes with student tutors, many of whom are women. School officials have defended their oversight of the Total Person Program and called the unlawful encounter an isolated incident.

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