DA decides not to file charges against Sherron Collins

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson declined to file criminal charges against Kansas University basketball player Sherron M. Collins on Friday, based on insufficient evidence.

Jessica Brown, 35, has filed a civil lawsuit against Collins, 21, in reference to an incident reported to have occurred at the Jayhawker Towers on the Kansas University campus.

In the lawsuit, Brown accused Collins of exposing himself and rubbing against her despite being told repeatedly to stop. She said the incident occurred May 18, 2007, in an elevator at Jayhawker Towers, where she worked.

Collins has denied the allegations.

Brown won a default judgment in the civil case, because Collins did not respond to her lawsuit. Collins has filed a motion to have the default judgment set aside on the ground that he did not have proper notice of the lawsuit. Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy is scheduled to hear that motion and others on Aug. 1.

Branson’s decision to not file criminal charges does not affect the civil case.

“Based on the investigation done by KU Public Safety, the lab reports that we requested from KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), we thought there was insufficient evidence that we could file a case that we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Branson said late Friday.

The burden of proof in a civil case is lower: preponderance of the evidence rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Case more than year old

The incident was reported to KU police in May 2007. The Public Safety Office investigated the matter by conducting interviews and collecting potential evidence to corroborate the report, according to Branson’s office.

Evidence was sent to KBI for testing. KBI returned one of the two tests requested in June 2007. The second, more sensitive test, was not performed “because of a low probability of success,” according to a news release from Branson’s office.

At Branson’s request, the second test was conducted in October 2007. Those results were provided to Branson’s office last month. According to the release, the testing “did not provide any additional evidence in the case.”

“I think KU did a prompt job of investigating the matter,” Branson said. “We had a time drag with KBI, but it’s not unusual in those kind of circumstances.”

Branson did not specify what items KBI tested.

Branson said he had spoken with Brown in May 2007 and last week about the case.

“The victim was very disappointed that the testing did not provide the corroborating evidence that would support a criminal charge and she understands the difficulty of pursuing a criminal case under these circumstances,” Branson said.

The statute of limitations on the criminal case is five years.

Brown’s attorney Jim Wisler could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Collins’ response

Collins maintained his innocence after hearing of Branson’s decision.

“Although these claims have been very hurtful to me personally and damaged my reputation, I have always been confident that there is no evidence that could implicate me in any way, shape or form,” said Collins in a statement released by KU. “I am innocent of any inappropriate behavior and hopefully this news today will help return my good name.”

KU also released the following statement from head KU basketball coach Bill Self:

“This information comes as no surprise to me. Sherron has maintained his innocence since the day these allegations were made over a year ago. I have supported Sherron since these claims were made and will continue to do so.”