MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges alleging that he sexually assaulted two drunken women in his apartment earlier this year.
Cephus entered the plea to charges of second- and third-degree sexual assault during a hearing in Madison on Thursday. The proceeding was over in less than five minutes.
Prosecutors allege that the women woke up naked in Cephus' apartment bedroom and were so drunk they were barely conscious as Cephus sexually assaulted them simultaneously.
Cephus, who is suspended from the team, contends that the sex was consensual. Prosecutors, though, say the women were too drunk to consent.
Cephus' attorneys say surveillance footage from Cephus' building shows one of the women walking unimpaired down stairs after she left Cephus' apartment and the other woman appearing to have a normal conversation with Cephus at his apartment door.
They also say one of the women sent Cephus a text message about 45 minutes after she left asking him to look for a vaping device she left at his home. She closed the text with a heart and kiss emoji.
Cephus, a 6-foot-1 junior from Macon, Georgia, was suspended from the team in August and is the subject of a university disciplinary investigation that could result in his expulsion. He filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking to block the investigation, saying he can't participate in it without hurting his ability to defend himself against the criminal charges.
His attorney in that case, Andrew Miltenberg, released a statement Thursday accusing the university of "turning on a fine young man" and sending the wrong message to young black men.
University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone responded to the statement with an email saying that pending criminal cases don't excuse universities from "promptly and effectively responding to allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment."