Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard admitted Wednesday that he knew linebacker Bobby Okereke faced a sexual assault allegation in 2015 at Stanford when the team selected the linebacker in the third round of April’s draft.
An independent student-run website at Stanford called The Fountain Hopper detailed Okereke’s situation on Tuesday and reported that the Colts knew of the allegation when they selected him.
A Title IX investigation in 2016 sided with Okereke so he didn’t face discipline.
According to Ballard, Okereke informed the Colts of the situation at the Senior Bowl in January. Ballard said the team studied documents from the Title IX case and were comfortable with selecting Okereke.
“When we looked at it and talked about it and talking to the young man, an incident from four years ago, no discipline by the university and he was never charged with a crime,” Ballard told reporters. “And then you look at his track record from that point to now. Team captain. Lott Trophy quarterfinalist. He graduated with a degree in management and engineering. He’s working on his master’s.
“From 2015 to 2019, from everything we gathered and high recommendations that we got, it felt appropriate to take him.”
A New York Times story in December 2016 reported that an unnamed Stanford football player wasn’t disciplined by the school or football program after a disciplinary board of five panelists didn’t return the needed four votes to say a sexual assault had occurred. Ballard said Okereke told him he was the unnamed player.
Documents studied by the New York Times and The Fountain Hopper displayed that three of the five panelists believed a sexual assault occurred. The accuser was reportedly angry about the decision and eventually left Stanford to avoid having to see Okereke on campus.
“(These things are) very difficult,” Ballard said. “Not only from our perspective from trying to get the information, but from the university perspective. You have a he-said, she-said incident. I don’t want to sit here and act like we don’t have sensitivity for both sides of it.
“But as I’ve kind of said, it happened four years ago and because there were no charges or disciplinary actions by the university and then his track record from everything we know to this point has been good.”
Ballard said the Colts didn’t attempt to speak to the accuser or her lawyer because no disciplinary measures were taken.
The Fountain Hopper said the NFL didn’t respond to multiple requests for comments regarding the Okereke situation.
Okereke, a team captain, played in 51 games at Stanford and had 240 career tackles. He had 19 tackles for loss (including 10.5 sacks) and also forced three fumbles.
–Field Level Media