Charges will not be filed against Missouri women's basketbal players

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | 6:34 p.m. CST; updated 8:21 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COLUMBIA — Criminal charges will not be pursued in the case of two Missouri women’s basketball players arrested Friday on suspicion of third-degree assault, according to the Boone County Prosecutor's office.

“We have an alleged victim who does not want us to pursue charges,” assistant prosecutor Ryan Haigh said. "That alone is not sufficient in and of itself, but after interviewing several witnesses, we decided not to pursue the charges."

Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson, the Tigers leading scorers, were arrested early Friday morning after Justin Short, a Missouri cheerleader, called police complaining there were people who would not leave his apartment at 36 N. Cedar Lake Drive. When police arrived, Short said he had been assaulted by the basketball players and he was taken to a hospital with a swollen nose and a cut on his eye.

Later Friday, Missouri coach Cindy Stein indefinitely suspended Hanneman and Johnson, and Short was also suspended from the MU spirit squad. Haigh said Short asked him not to pursue charges on Monday. At about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Haigh decided to drop all charges in the case.

Haigh said he interviewed about seven witnesses. Columbia Police said several witnesses gave varying accounts, some claiming that Hanneman and Johnson were trying to stop a physical altercation between Short and his female roommate. 

“In the course of the investigation, we brought in as many people as we could,” Haigh said. “The statements of those who allegedly witnessed the events varied to a significant degree. One thing that was consistent was that most people involved had been drinking.”

It is unclear if or when Hanneman and Johnson will be reinstated. Mike Alden, the MU athletics director is out of town and a decision might not be made until his return, according to Kate Lakin, assistant director of media relations for the women's basketball team.

“In this kind of situation, coaches cannot reinstate players. It has to come from the athletic director, per our policies,” Lakin said in a text message.

Lakin said the athletics department will release a statement on Thursday.

Phone messages left for Hanneman and Johnson were not returned. Short said by text message that he has no comment. On her Twitter account Hanneman posted a message Wednesday afternoon that said "*sigh* relief."

Hanneman and Johnson have led the Tigers to a 7-2 start. Johnson leads the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game, while Hanneman averages 13.3 a game. The Tigers play at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Mizzou Arena against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

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Lady Tiger Fan December 17, 2009 | 2:55 p.m.

The girls are back on the team!!! yea!

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