Kendall Sanders

Let's hope the football team can move on quickly from Sanders/Meander case

Texas head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players and suspended three more for violating team rules since taking over at the helm of the Longhorns in January.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players and suspended three more for violating team rules since taking over at the helm of the Longhorns in January.

Over the summer, two football players, Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, were arrested after allegedly assaulting a female student in a campus dorm. Following the arrests, Coach Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. On Aug. 3, he announced that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges brought against them.  

Months later, the case has resurfaced. According to documents from the Travis County Court, the jury found enough evidence to indict the two players, which means the trial will proceed. The two players are set to appear in court Friday.  

It doesn't take a sports expert or Longhorn football fanatic to know that sexually assaulting someone created a PR nightmare for the University, not to mention the slew of negative stereotypes about athletes that were affirmed after the news of the assault broke.  

This scandal has, unfortunately, marred the clean record that Coach Strong has worked hard to attain since his arrival to Austin. While the Longhorns might not have had the best season, the team worked hard to improve its public image and reputation on campus and across the country — something which should be valued as highly as a winning score.  

Hopefully, the trial will be quick and painless so the University of Texas, Coach Strong, the Longhorns and their fans can get on with next season, hopefully one devoid of assault or any other negative publicity.   

Berkeley is an associate editor.

Former Texas wide receivers Montrel Meander, left, and Kendall Sanders, right.

Photo Credit: Texas Sports

Former Texas football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, both of whom were charged with second-degree felonies for sexual assault, have been indicted, according to documents from the Travis County Court.

According to the documents, dated Dec. 8, a grand jury found enough evidence to indict the two players for sexual assault, which means the trials will go forward. Meander is set to appear in court Wednesday, and Sanders on Jan. 23, according to Travis County court records.

Sanders and Meander were originally arrested July 24 after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in a campus dorm on June 21. Immediately following the arrests, Texas head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. He announced on Aug. 3 that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges brought against them.

If convicted, the two could each face a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Over the winter break, three former student-athletes will face criminal court hearings. Below is an update on their cases:

Sanders and Meander

The preliminary hearings for former Texas football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, both of whom were charged with second-degree felonies for sexual assault, have been rescheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 5 and Dec. 15, respectively, according to Travis County court records. Both cases have been rescheduled multiple times since the players’ first scheduled court date in August.

If convicted, they could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. According to Travis County Clerk Grace Ramirez, it could take up to a year before the players are indicted and the cases
move forward.

Sanders and Meander were originally arrested July 24 after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in a campus dorm on June 21. Immediately following the arrests, Texas head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. He announced on Aug. 3 that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges brought against them.

Bail was set at $75,000 for both Meander and Sanders for one count of sexual assault each. Sanders has an additional bail of $20,000 for a charge of improper photography.

Martez Walker

After being rescheduled multiple times, the hearing for former basketball guard Martez Walker, who is charged for alleged assault with injury and criminal trespass, is scheduled for Dec. 19 at 9:30 a.m., according to Travis County court records.

Head coach Rick Barnes suspended Walker from the team on Sept. 12 after Walker allegedly hit his girlfriend in an incident at San Jacinto Residence Hall, according to a statement released by the University. Walker turned himself in at the Travis County Courthouse after the incident, and a judge issued an arrest warrant in which bond was set at $7,500.

While banned, Walker reappeared on campus less than a week later, when he was arrested for trespassing by returning to the dormitory where the alleged assault occurred. He was taken into custody by UTPD and transported to Travis County Jail.

University officials confirmed on Oct. 9 that Walker had withdrawn from the University.

The preliminary hearing for former Texas Longhorns wide receiver Kendall Sanders, who was charged earlier this summer with a second-degree felony for sexual assault, as well as improper photography, was rescheduled again Friday.

The hearing was reset to Dec. 5 at 9 a.m., according to Travis County District Court bailiff Antonio Casarez.

This is the third time the preliminary hearing has been rescheduled. It was originally set for Aug. 7, delayed to Sept. 2, and then delayed to Oct. 17. 

Sanders was arrested in July, along with former wide receiver Montrel Meander, after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in San Jacinto Residence Hall. Both Meander and Sanders were later released on bail, according to UTPD Chief David Carter.

If convicted, both players could possibly face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. According to Travis County Court clerk Grace Ramirez, it could take up to a year before the players are indicted. 

Immediately following the arrests, head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. On Aug. 3, he announced that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges against them.

The preliminary hearing for former Longhorn football wide receiver Montrel Meander, who was charged earlier this summer with a second-degree felony for sexual assault, was rescheduled again Thursday.

The hearing was reset to 9 a.m. on Nov. 10, according to Travis County District Court Bailiff Anthony Casarez.

This is the third time the preliminary hearing has been rescheduled. It was originally set for Aug. 7 and then delayed to Sept. 2.

Meander was arrested in July, along with former wide receiver Kendall Sanders, after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in San Jacinto Residence Hall. Both Meander and Sanders were later released on bail.

If convicted, both players could possibly face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Immediately following the arrests, head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. On Aug. 3, he announced that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges against them.

Sanders’ hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m.

The preliminary hearings for former Texas football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, both of whom were charged earlier this summer with second-degree felonies for sexual assault, were rescheduled again Tuesday. 

Meander’s hearing was reset to 9 a.m. on Oct. 16, and Sanders’ was reset for the same time Oct. 17, according to Travis County district court bailiff Anthony Casarez.

Meander and his attorney did not show in court Tuesday, when the hearing was originally supposed to occur. Sanders’ attorney Brian Roark appeared before District Judge Mike Lynch to reset the hearing date for Sanders but otherwise declined to comment on the case.

This is the second time the preliminary hearings have been rescheduled. They were originally set for Aug. 7 and then delayed to Sept. 2. 

The two former wide receivers were arrested in July after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in San Jacinto Residence Hall. According to UTPD Chief David Carter, both were later released on bond because they did not pose a danger to other students.

If convicted, both players could possibly face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Immediately following the arrests, head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. On Aug. 3, he announced that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges against them.

The students are also being investigated by Student Judicial Services, which could result in the players’ expulsion fromthe University.

Several court cases related to the University and the Austin area have progressed over the summer. Below is an update on the status of three major cases:

Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander

The preliminary hearing for former Texas football players Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, both of whom were charged with second-degree felonies for sexual assault, has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 2, according to Travis County court records. The date was rescheduled from Aug. 7 in order to ensure that both players had legal representation.

Sanders and Meander were arrested July 24 after allegedly sexually assaulting a female student in a campus dorm on June 21. According to UTPD Chief David Carter, both players were released later that day on bond because they did not pose a danger to other students. 

Immediately following the arrests, Texas head coach Charlie Strong suspended both players from the team for an indefinite amount of time. He then announced on Aug. 3 that they had been dismissed from the team because of the charges brought against them. 

Bail was set at $75,000 for both Meander and Sanders for one count of sexual assault each. Sanders has an additional bail of $20,000 for a charge of improper photography. If convicted, both players could face a sentence of up to 20 years and an additional fine of up to $10,000.

President William Powers Jr. said in a statement that the University has undertaken a Student Judicial Services review, which could result in the players’ expulsion from the University. 

Rashad Owens

Court dates for Rashad Owens have been pushed back four times since he was arrested in March. 

Owens was charged with capital murder after driving while drunk through a barrier on Red River Street during the South By Southwest festival last March, killing four people and injuring 20 others. 

Owens was originally scheduled to appear in court April 9, before his trial, but a number of no-shows and requests by his attorney have pushed the pretrial hearing back to 9 a.m. on Oct. 6. According to Janice Porter, Travis County court clerk, it could possibly be another year before Owens goes to trial. 

The charges against Owens include capital murder, four counts of felony murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault. Bond was set at $5.5 million.

Rahatul Khan

After pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy for attempting to provide terrorists with material support, UT student Rahatul Khan could face up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. At the plea hearing on July 2, Khan admitted to providing a recommendation to a co-conspirator about someone who wanted to engage in terrorist activities in Somalia. 

Khan was arrested by federal prosecutors in Round Rock on June 17, the same day as another conspirator, Michael Wolfe, was arrested in Houston and eventually given the same charge. Wolfe said he planned to travel to Syria and fight with a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida.

On June 20, Khan was officially indicted by a federal grand jury with the charge of conspiracy and waived his formal arraignment, or formal reading of criminal charges. He was scheduled to appear at a detention hearing to determine whether he could have been released on bond before his trial on June 30 but waived the right to that hearing also. 

On June 27, Wolfe pled guilty, and Khan pled guilty on July 2. Both are still in federal custody, pending sentencing before District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ loss of seven players, a few of whom were expected to have important roles in 2014, over a 48-hour span last week poses an obvious question for Texas football fans: How will Charlie Strong and his staff fill the void left by the dismissed athletes?

While none of these dismissals have been officially confirmed by the program, it appears an announcement is merely a formality. OrangeBloods has reported that the dismissed Texas players will all get a chance to meet with Strong on Monday, where the dismissals are expected to become official.

Kendall Sanders and Josh Turner were both expected to start for Texas, Joe Bergeron was likely to continue to play an important role in the Longhorn backfield, and Jalen Overstreet, Chevoski Collins and Montrel Meander were each poised to add necessary depth at their respective positions. The Longhorns also lost senior linebacker Kendall Thompson, who is leaving for medical reasons. In addition to those who have already been given the boot, ESPN’s Max Olson has reported that as many as five more players may soon be facing dismissals for violating team rules. 

But even without additional departures, Texas is already looking thin at some key positions. Turner was likely slated to be one of the starting safeties for the Longhorns while Collins was set to be his backup, but with both off the team, Texas will likely start sophomore Adrian Colbert at one of the safety spots. True freshmen such as Edwin Freeman or John Bonney will likely get a chance to play significantly from day one.

The loss of Bergeron and Overstreet will cripple Texas’ depth at running back, especially if junior Johnathan Gray or senior Malcolm Brown get injured, as they have in the past. Other than that, Texas only has true freshmen Donald Catalon and D’Onta Foreman at the position, though Foreman has yet to officially qualify.

At receiver, Texas returns its top two options in senior Jaxon Shipley and junior Marcus Johnson, but the loss of Sanders means one of the younger players will have to step up to the position, though Texas has plenty of potential options from the 2013 or 2014 recruiting classes. 

Finally, the loss of Thompson means some loss of depth at linebacker but isn’t particularly devastating for the program. Texas returns crucial starters in senior Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmonds, whose health will determine the vitality of the position.

Obviously, the final depth chart will depend on who is left on the team at the start of the season, but it is clear that Strong isn’t messing around with the rules. Right now, none of Texas’ losses are particularly brutal, but if they lose more players, especially potential starters, 2014 may be filled with a lot more downs than ups.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

In April, the White House announced an ambitious plan to combat sexual assault on college campuses. This followed the development of a task force to examine certain colleges and universities with the worst epidemics of these deplorable acts. Fortunately, of the 55 schools highlighted by the report, the University of Texas at Austin was not counted among them. Two Texas schools, however, UT Pan-American and Southern Methodist University, were. And this University, despite not being listed in the so-called worst of the worst, still struggles with an ugly underbelly of sexual violence on campus directed at both men and women.

An example of this hideous underbelly was on full display this past week, when two prominent members of the UT football team, wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander, respectively, were arrested by UTPD and charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony in Texas, as well as with improper photography. The two allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman whom Meander had met that night on Sixth Street. The Daily Texan respects the anonymity of victims of sexual assault.

The two will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the sexual assault. Sander faces an additional two years for an improper photography charge, a lesser felony. However, UT has already taken steps within its athletic department to punish these offenders.

Football coach Charlie Strong has suspended both individuals from the team and barred them from access to the practice facility in the interim. He has also promised more serious action in the future, such as permanent removal from the team, if circumstances warrant such action.

But the incident should also prompt a conversation about how the University should respond to such sexual violence on campus. With the assault occurring June 21, over a month before arrests were made, serious questions must be asked of both UTPD and the University’s internal mechanism for investigating these crimes.

Sexual assault and violence is a catastrophic problem on college campuses across the country. Recent statistics suggest that as many as one in four co-eds will be assaulted during their time in college.

When it comes to prevention strategies or other discussions on mitigating sexual assault on college campuses, one thing should be abundantly clear: The fault for rape lies completely with the rapist. It does not matter what the victim was wearing, how much she had to drink or how many of the perpetrator’s friends had committed the same heinous act (thus normalizing the tendency). In all of these scenarios, a common denominator is that the perpetrator is 100% responsible.

Education and extensive public awareness campaigns are the ideal solutions to this problem, as a way to prevent tragedies from ever occurring. But unfortunately, prevention is not sufficient in the real world, and sometimes punishment is the only tool we have to deter such abominable behavior.

Accordingly, I was glad to see a heavy-handed response, not only by the UT football team, but by the proper authorities. I look forward to seeing a grand jury indict these men — if the evidence against them is sufficient — and a trial to determine their guilt or innocence. If found guilty, I sincerely hope the full weight of the law is thrust upon them as a sentence to set as an example.

Horwitz is a government junior from Houston. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.

Correction: An earlier version of this column stated that both players were facing charges for improper photography. Kendall Sanders is the only player facing the lesser felony charge. 

Strong first step after scandal

On June 21, two UT football players — Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander — allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman who Meander had met earlier in the evening at a Sixth Street bar. In documents quoted by Burnt Orange Nation and Bleacher Report, horrendous details are revealed about the players' alleged assault.

Sexual assault, sadly, is a huge problem at universities throughout the country, including the University of Texas at Austin. Studies suggest that as many as 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of a sexual assault during their time at college. The vast majority of these crimes go unreported, and even more are not prosecuted. The perpetrators, almost always serial offenders, are left unpunished to continue inflicting terror and unspeakable violence against the unwilling. Typically, the higher status of the offender, the less justice is given to the victim.

Fortunately, for the aforementioned incident, this does not look to be the case. The victim bravely reported the violence committed against her to the proper authorities. Today, prosecutors announced that both football players would be charged with sexual assault, a second degree felony in Texas which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. An additional charge of improper photography was also leveled.

Furthermore, UT football coach Charlie Strong announced that both players would be suspended indefinitely, with more severe punishments sure to come down the line if the players are found guilty of the accusations made against them.

Horwitz is an associate editor.