Illinois basketball star ordered to stand trial on Lawrence rape charge; woman says he violated her at bar

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Illinois basketball player Terrence Edward Shannon testifies during a hearing on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Shannon was ordered to stand trial on a rape charge for an incident at a Lawrence bar in September 2023.

Updated at 4 p.m. Friday, May 10

A University of Illinois basketball player accused of rape for an incident at a Lawrence bar last summer was ordered to stand trial on Friday after a woman testified that she was “terrified” as he allegedly assaulted her.

The player, Terrence Edward Shannon, 23, of Champaign, Illinois, is charged in Douglas County District Court with one felony count of rape or, in the alternative, one felony count of aggravated sexual battery, according to charging documents. The incident is alleged to have occurred on Sept. 9, 2023, at the Jayhawk Cafe, 1340 Ohio St., while Shannon was in Kansas to attend a KU football game against Illinois.

Judge Sally Pokorny ordered Shannon to stand trial after both the alleged victim and Shannon testified about the incident.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Illinois basketball player Terrence Edward Shannon, left, and his attorney, Tricia Bath, are pictured at a hearing on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Shannon was ordered to stand trial on a rape charge for an incident at a Lawrence bar in September 2023.

The 18-year-old woman testified that she and her roommate had gone to the KU-Illinois football game that afternoon and then went to the Jayhawk Cafe, also known as The Hawk, then another Lawrence bar, before returning around 12:15 a.m. to the Jayhawk Cafe, where she met another friend in the Martini Room.

She said she had taken only a few sips of a vodka and Red Bull all night and was not drunk. She said the bar was too crowded and she and her friend were about to leave when, on their way out, a man, whom she later identified as Shannon, caught her eye and waved her over. She said Shannon was seated with KU basketball player Kevin McCullar. She said she had never met either man but recognized McCullar from watching games.

She said Shannon was cute and she wanted to talk with him. She and her friend stepped outside of the Martini Room and she told her friend about the man who had waved her over. Her friend said she should go back in to talk to him. The woman testified that she then pushed her way back through the crowded bar to meet Shannon. She said her elbows were pinned to her side with her hands in the air, a drink in one hand and her phone in the other.

As she approached, she said Shannon could see her struggle through the crowd. She said a woman was next to him “grinding” on him. She said he reached out and pulled her close to him as she approached, his hand moving down to her “hip and butt,” which she said was OK.

“I didn’t necessarily have a problem with him touching me over my clothes,” the woman said.

Within a few seconds, though, she said Shannon’s hands moved her underwear to the side and she felt his finger or fingers penetrate her.

“I was in shock. I thought, ‘Oh my god what is happening?'” she testified.

She said that she couldn’t put up a fight because she was too shocked to do anything and he pulled his hands away from her after about 5 to 10 seconds of sexual contact. The woman said she then left the bar.

Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden asked the woman how the sexual contact made her feel emotionally.

“I was shocked. I was disgusted. I was scared. I was terrified,” the woman responded.

The woman said she then reconnected with her friend at the bar and tried to explain, unsuccessfully, what had happened and that they needed to leave. Her friend insisted on saying goodbye to someone at the bar before leaving. The women then went back to their Lawrence apartment, where the woman told her friend and another roommate what had happened.

The woman then went to bed, but before falling asleep she thought hard about what had happened to her.

“I need to find out who this person is,” she said she thought to herself.

The woman said she first started checking KU football and basketball rosters since Shannon had been sitting with a KU player. She said she didn’t find anyone who looked like the man who assaulted her; then she remembered that KU had played Illinois that day.

She then checked the Illinois football roster and again found no one she recognized, but when checking the Illinois basketball roster she saw the first person on the list, player number zero, Terrence Shannon. She said she knew it was him when she saw his colored braids.

The next day she contacted police, who advised her to get a sexual assault kit, which she did.

Seiden asked the woman why she didn’t call the police right away.

“I wanted to process what happened. Maybe I thought I wouldn’t,” she said.

But then she said that she realized what happened to her was wrong and that women should not have to deal with that type of behavior.

“I needed justice,” the woman said.

Shannon’s attorney, Tricia Bath, of Leawood, asked the woman if she was making eye contact with “the man she has identified as Shannon” when the alleged assault happened. The woman said “no” and that she was looking out over the bar but said she was sure it was Shannon who assaulted her.

“I know it was him. He never stopped touching me,” the woman said.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Illinois basketball player Terrence Edward Shannon, left, is pictured with his attorney, Thomas Bath, right, at a hearing on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court. Shannon was ordered to stand trial on a rape charge for an incident at a Lawrence bar in September 2023.

Shannon then took the stand and denied ever touching the woman during the incident. He said that he was at the bar with his roommates from Illinois and several KU basketball and football players, including McCullar. He said they had been drinking shots and other drinks throughout the evening but that he was not drunk.

He said he met a few women throughout the evening and exchanged contact numbers with some of them. When his other attorney, Thomas Bath, of Leawood, asked if he knew the woman who had accused him of rape or whether he ever made any physical contact with her, he said “no.”

Pokorny said that the woman’s testimony was sufficient evidence to order Shannon to stand trial. Such an order requires a finding of probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that it was committed by the defendant.

In closing arguments, Tricia Bath said that the state had failed to prove that the woman was assaulted by force or fear. She said that the woman had not told police in her initial interviews that she was fearful but only said she was “shocked” at what happened and that she did not say she was “scared” until Friday’s hearing.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Judge Sally Pokorny is pictured at the hearing for Terrence Shannon on Friday, May 10, 2024, in Douglas County District Court.

Pokorny, however, noted that the alleged assault, if it happened as described, could be considered an “ambush” during which the woman had no opportunity to consent.

Shannon is currently free on a $50,000 bond. He is scheduled for trial on June 10 for four days.

Another attorney for Shannon, Mark Sutter, of Chicago, issued a statement about the proceedings after the hearing concluded.

“Our legal team is neither shocked nor disappointed by the outcome of this event. A preliminary hearing is a procedural process that merely speaks to the threshold of evidence and whether a question of fact may exist for a jury. It has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. Those issues will be decided at trial, and we continue to look forward to our day in court,” Sutter said in an email.

Shannon, who graduates from the University of Illinois this weekend, had initially been suspended from the Illinois basketball program after the allegations were made public; however, he successfully sued to be allowed to play on the team in an effort to safeguard his NBA draft prospects. It isn’t clear how the results of Friday’s hearing will affect his position in the draft.


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