Not guilty: Illini basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. gets a verdict in rape trial

Terrence Shannon Jr. was a first-team All-Big Ten selection the past two seasons.
Terrence Shannon Jr. was a first-team All-Big Ten selection the past two seasons.

Terrence Shannon Jr. went from the courtroom back to the basketball court Thursday when he was found not guilty in his rape trial.

The former Illinois basketball star faced charges for rape and aggravated sexual battery in a Kansas courtroom, based on allegations made by an 18-year-old woman at a bar near the University of Kansas campus in September.

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A jury found him not guilty on both counts after deliberating 90 minutes on Thursday.

Shannon took the stand Thursday while family members looked on. He vehemently denied the allegations, which came from an incident during a trip he had made to watch an Illini at Kansas football game last fall.

"I never touched, grabbed, pulled over. … That did not happen,” Shannon told the jury, according to published reports.

Moving forward

Mar 30, 2024; Boston, MA, USA;Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) dribbles the ball against Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) in the finals of the East Regional of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2024; Boston, MA, USA;Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) dribbles the ball against Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) in the finals of the East Regional of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Chicago native is projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft.

The Illini suspended him from Dec. 27 through Jan. 19 when the allegations surfaced, during which he missed six games.

Shannon went on to lead the team in scoring, ranking second in the Big Ten and third in the NCAA at 23.0 ppg. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches, media and The Associated Press. He was chosen second-team All-American by 247Sports and CBS Sports, third-team All-American by AP, and honorable mention All-American by USBWA.

Background info: Former Illinois basketball player Terrence Shannon Jr. to face trial on rape charge

"I just focus on what I can control," Shannon said in published reports last month. "I control me working every day and putting in the work."

That work helped the Illini to the Big Ten tournament title and to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual champion UConn.

Case closed

The prosecution's closing arguments included reference to the 18-year-old woman as a typical student from a junior college who went with her friend to a bar, despite liking neither crowds nor drinking, because it’s what college students do. He referred to the other student — Shannon Jr. — as a star college athlete who "Might as well be the king of the University of Illinois. When he wants something, he gets it."

Shannon's defense attorney told the jury the case was a travesty, saying science mandates that the Illini player was not responsible for any crime and that police have made no effort to find who was.

The woman described a tall man at the bar who put his hand under her skirt and groped her butt, then moved her underwear aside and inserted a finger into her vagina. The woman said she left the bar and went home to search online for rosters from KU and Illini football and basketball players. She identified Shannon Jr. from that process.

Swabs taken from the woman were tested, and forensic scientists said no male DNA was present.

Among things presented in court was a December group message thread involving the woman and her roommates.

They shared a link to an ESPN report on Shannon’s suspension from the Illini men's team following the rape charge. It included a message from someone in the group that read "Got his ass," followed by two face emojis with dollar signs for eyes.

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on X.com @icetimecleve.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Illinois basketball Terrence Shannon Jr.not guilty verdict in rape trial

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