- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee defensive lineman Alexis Johnson has been released on bond following his arrest on charges of aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

University of Tennessee police stated in court documents obtained Thursday that Johnson was “play fighting” with a woman in a Knoxville apartment Sunday between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., and that it escalated until he placed his hands around her throat two to three times. Police say the woman indicated “the constriction was so tight that she could not fight back and she felt she was going to pass out.”

Johnson was booked on Wednesday, and Knox County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Martha Dooley said he was released Thursday on $16,500 bond. Tennessee athletic department spokesman Ryan Robinson said late Wednesday night that the junior-college transfer has been suspended from all team activities.

Gregory Isaacs, the lawyer representing Johnson, said his client “adamantly denies the allegations and intends to enter a plea of not guilty.” Isaacs also said Johnson “has cooperated with every aspect of the investigation.”

“Our firm is currently conducting an independent and more expansive investigation regarding these unfortunate accusations,” Isaacs said. “Alexis looks forward to having this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible.”

The documents state the woman slapped Johnson in defense and that Johnson “attempted to repetitively” touch and kiss the woman. Police said the woman told Johnson repeatedly that she didn’t want to have sex with him. The woman told police that as she attempted to leave the bedroom, Johnson blocked the door.

The woman also told police she and Johnson had previously dated two times and she had had sex with him once, according to the documents.

Police said a witness indicated Johnson appeared to be “really punching” the woman during the play fighting. The witness told police the woman’s lip was “busted.”

Johnson, a 20-year-old from Atlanta, signed with Tennessee in December and enrolled at the start of the spring semester. He spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons at Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College.

The arrest comes one week after six unidentified women filed a lawsuit in federal court that said Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations and created a “hostile sexual environment” through a policy of indifference toward assaults by student-athletes.


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