YORK A former Winthrop University mens basketball player has pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and battery, more than a year after he and a teammate were accused of raping a woman in their on-campus apartment.
Robert Robbie Dreher, a 21-year-old former guard for the Winthrop Eagles, was sentenced to one year of probation. His criminal record shows that he was once charged with a misdemeanor for disturbing schools in Greenville that was later dismissed.
In April 2011, Dreher and his Eagles teammate, Julius Francis a then-21-year-old center from Warri, Nigeria were arrested when a 19-year-old woman said the two athletes sexually assaulted her in the Courtyard apartments after she rebuffed their sexual advances.
Both players, enrolled at the university on scholarship, were charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and held on a $20,000 bond each.
Two months after their arrest, Winthrops mens basketball coach at the time, Randy Peele, told The Herald that both Dreher and Francis would likely not be part of the team for the following season. Peele said Dreher had already voluntarily terminated his scholarship while Francis was considering exploring attending a junior college or prep school.
The cases against Dreher and Francis remained pending in court until July 26 when Dreher appeared before Judge Michael Nettles and pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and battery, which contains elements of criminal sexual conduct, said Erin Joyner, the assistant solicitor who prosecuted the case.
The charge changed after prosecutors encountered certain...evidentiary issues that we discussed with the victim and law enforcement, Joyner said.
Joyner was unable to elaborate on what those issues were, but she said prosecutors and Drehers defense attorney agreed that the statute for second-degree assault and battery applied to the victims allegations.
Any time you have the allegation of a sexual assault, the sexual assault, by its very nature, would involve the non-consensual touching of a private part, Joyner said.
The victim, a former Winthrop student from Greenville, didnt attend the hearing, Joyner said.
It was a very short plea, she said, adding that second-degree assault and battery normally carries a three-year maximum sentence.
Prosecutors recommended probation and, after meeting with law enforcement and the victim, agreed on the resolution, Joyner said. Because Francis case is still pending, she was unable to give more details.
Drehers defense attorney, Gary Lemel of Rock Hill, declined to comment and said Drehers family declined to comment, as well.
Police reports show that around 6 a.m. April 17, 2011, a highly distraught crying woman went to Richardson Hall on campus, yelling that she had been molested.
The womans friend called police. When officers arrived, they found her sitting on the curb. The report states that it was apparent that the woman suffered a traumatic event before she told police she had been touched by a man.
She refused to elaborate and began lashing out at police and her friends, claiming that they were victimizing her further. She then vowed to leave Winthrop as soon as possible.
The next morning, a supervisor from Greenville Memorial Hospital called Winthrop Police to notify them that the woman had gone to their facility for treatment after claiming she was raped at the university. Authorities picked up a completed rape kit and placed it in evidence as police investigated, the report states.
During the investigation, the woman told campus police that she had been at Drehers and Francis Courtyard at Winthrop apartment, according to the report. She claimed she and Dreher had argued over his sexual advances toward her. Dreher had put her out of the apartment twice, but she was let back in.
The woman said Dreher led her to Francis room, where she was restrained while both players engaged in sexual activity with her although she said No, according to the report.
Police issued warrants for Dreher and Francis. On April 27, 2011, both players turned themselves in to police and were arrested.
In August, Dreher, a sophomore business administration major at the time, and Francis, a freshman sociology major, were officially expelled from the university before classes began for a new semester, according to Dean of Students Bethany Marlowe.
Before his departure from Winthrop, Dreher played in 27 games and led the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game average. He also averaged 3.9 rebounds.
After leaving Winthrop, Francis transferred to Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, Okla., where he played post for the schools mens basketball team, the Mavericks.
The Daily Advertiser, a newspaper in Lafayette, La., reported last week that Francis recently signed on as a center for the University of Louisiana-Lafayettes mens basketball team, the Ragin Cajuns, for the 2012-2013 season.
Brian McCann, the universitys sports information director, said Tuesday the athletic department was unable to comment on any potential student athletes unless theyve already enrolled in classes or have turned in a letter of intent.
Francis, 22, preparing to enter his junior year, has done neither.
Classes start Monday, McCann said.
The Daily Advertiser reported that Francis told a reporter he made the decision to attend the university after visiting the campus and meeting the athletic director. He also said he would occupy a scholarship spot left vacant by a player who quit the team last month.
In a follow-up story, the universitys athletic director told The Daily Advertiser that the athletic department and other constituents within the university planned to meet to see if Francis would be enrolled at the school.
We havent made any decisions regarding Francis, McCann said.