Husker RB Maurice Washington faces child porn charges in California after sending video of ex-girlfriend

Husker RB Maurice Washington faces child porn charges in California after sending video of ex-girlfriend
Maurice Washington accounted for 676 yards of offense during his freshman season and is expected to be Nebraska's No. 1 running back headed into spring practices. BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — California officials have requested that a warrant be filed for Nebraska running back Maurice Washington, charging him with felony distribution of child pornography.

NU’s athletic department said Monday that it is continuing to “monitor this ongoing legal process.”

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Washington, 19, accusing him of felony possession of material, such as a photo or video, involving someone under the age of 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct. He also has been charged with sharing said material without the person’s permission and with the potential to cause emotional distress. That charge is a misdemeanor.

Clarissa Hamilton, supervisor of the sexual assault unit in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, said the request for a warrant is awaiting a judge’s approval. She said she reviewed the case and forwarded it to the judge in mid-December.

The situation came to light Monday when NBC Bay Area — a TV station in Northern California — reported that Washington had allegedly sent to a former girlfriend a video that showed her in sex acts with two 17-year-old boys. The girl was 15 years old at the time the video was taken in 2016, and Washington allegedly texted it back to her in March 2018, the station said.

Washington’s Lincoln-based attorney, John Ball, said Washington did not record or participate in the alleged 2016 incident with the girl. But the TV station reported that Washington kept a video of the incident on his phone.

On March 2, 2018, Washington allegedly sent the video back to the girl — who told the local TV station that she dated Washington when they were high school freshmen. According to the report, the girl contacted Washington to congratulate him on signing with Nebraska. In response to that message, Washington allegedly sent the girl the video of the alleged incident.

“The narrative put forth today is that Mr. Washington used a video as a weapon to re-victimize his former high school girlfriend,” Ball said. “That is not true. Without a doubt, Mr. Washington had absolutely nothing to do with that sexual assault.

“The communications between these two young people are yet to be fully determined, and there are additional facts and circumstances that give context and perspective to this situation.”

One boy connected with the assault was given probation for distribution of child pornography after he sent a recording of the video to classmates, according to NBC Bay Area. He was not charged with sexual assault at the time. According to the report, the girl said she did not pursue charges at the time, but said the encounter was not consensual.

“This is a situation involving an inappropriate cellphone video,” Ball said. “Mr. Washington will continue to be fully cooperative with the authorities in this situation. We are in contact with those authorities, and are in the process of making arrangements to move forward and resolve this matter.

“Mr. Washington has confidence in our justice system and knows that he can rely on the fundamental constitutional right of due process and the presumption of innocence.”

The story also said NU knew about the allegations last fall, as Washington was playing his freshman season for the Huskers. Nebraska’s statement Monday indicated that it at least knew a situation involving Washington might exist, though not the details surrounding it.

“Last fall we were contacted by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln police department and made aware that officials in California were interested in interviewing Maurice Washington about a prior incident,” NU’s statement read. “Details were not shared and there was no additional follow-up with the Nebraska Athletic Department. Recently, we were made aware that charges may be filed against Maurice in California. We have not had a chance to review the charges, and will continue to monitor this ongoing legal process.”

Hamilton said if convicted, Washington could face up to a year in jail. But she said other forms of punishment that would allow him to avoid jail are possible.

“There are a lot of variables,” she said.

Originally from San Jose, California, Washington began his high school career at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale. He spent two seasons there and ran for 1,827 yards as a sophomore, but he told The World-Herald in 2018 that he left the school because the school had fired an assistant coach to whom he was close.

Washington was banned from competition at his next stop, Oak Grove High School in San Jose, because his transfer was deemed athletically motivated.

He spent his senior year at Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas. On the strength of that season — and a standout performance in the Under Armour All-America Game — Washington received plenty of recruiting attention and picked Nebraska on signing day in February 2018.

Washington didn’t finish the semester at Trinity. He was expelled from the school and sent home to California, where he completed his course work. Aveion Cason — Trinity’s head coach at the time — said Washington was expelled because of behavioral problems. “He got in trouble, and he was expelled,” Cason told The World-Herald in May.

The World-Herald reached out Monday to multiple phone numbers listed for Cason. Only one was in service, and a text message was not immediately returned.

Nebraska stuck with Washington after he was expelled. Nebraska coach Scott Frost said in mid-May that NU would stay loyal to Washington’s commitment to getting eligible academically.

When Washington was given the green light to enroll at NU, he was roughly 20 pounds lighter because he spent the summer working at a sports bar. He missed a couple of practices during the season because of illness and spoke just a handful of times to the media.

He still made an immediate impact in the football program, racking up 455 rushing yards and 221 receiving yards. Washington is expected to be NU’s No. 1 running back headed into spring practices.

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