Nebraska running back Maurice Washington has been charged in California with two crimes, including felony possession of child pornography, for allegedly sending a video over text message to his former girlfriend of what she says was her being sexually assaulted.
Washington, 19, did not participate in the filming of the video, nor does he appear in the video. But the young woman was only 15 at the time the video was filmed in 2016, so possession of the video is a felony.
If convicted of the felony charge, Washington would be required to register as a sex offender.
The other charge is misdemeanor posting of a photograph or recording of a sexual nature without consent, said Clarissa Hamilton, supervisor of the sexual assault unit in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
The office is awaiting a judge's signature on an arrest warrant requested in December to proceed, she said.
According to a search-warrant affidavit issued in Santa Clara County, the young woman dated Washington while they were students at The King's Academy High School in Sunnyvale, California.
She contacted Washington last year via Instagram to congratulate him on receiving a college scholarship. Washington responded by making sexual advances, according to the affidavit. The young woman responded that she was not interested in a romantic relationship.
On March 2, 2018, Washington sent a text message to the young woman that contained a 10-second video of her sexual encounter with two juvenile male peers, with the message, "Remember this hoe." Her stepmother intercepted the message and reported it to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
"The communications between these two young people are yet to be fully determined, and there are additional facts and circumstances that give context and perspective to this situation," Washington's attorney, John C. Ball of Lincoln, Nebraska, said in a statement, while emphasizing that Washington had nothing to do with the alleged assault.
Nebraska also issued a statement, saying that it was contacted last fall by university police and the state attorney general's office to make it aware of the incident and police investigation.
"Details were not shared and there was no additional follow up with the Nebraska Athletic Department," the statement read. "Recently, we were made aware that charges may be filed against Maurice in California. We have not had a chance to review the charges and will continue to monitor this ongoing legal process."
Hamilton said sheriff's department investigators twice reached out to officials with the university to get information about Washington, but she said investigators never received any additional information from the school.
Suzanne Gage, spokeswoman for the Nebraska attorney general in Lincoln, said a detective from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office contacted the AG's office in August to ask whether someone could get a statement from Washington in connection with the investigation.
Gage said an investigator with the AG's office reached out to the university to get Washington's contact information but was never able to reach him directly. Instead, she said, Washington's legal counsel at the time, Jon Bruning, replied and declined on the football player's behalf. Bruning is a former Nebraska attorney general now in private practice, although not in criminal defense, according to his website.
Washington rushed for 455 yards on 77 carries and caught 24 passes for 221 yards as a true freshman at Nebraska last season.
No sexual assault charges were filed against the juveniles who appeared in the video, but NBC Bay Area reported that one of them was arrested and placed on probation for distribution of child pornography after he recorded the video and sent copies to classmates.
The young woman says she did not report the incident at the time because she was ashamed and tried to just move on. Her father says the family is now considering whether to pursue sexual assault charges.