Memphis football player charged with rape, dismissed from team

Investigators at Settles' home (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Investigators at Settles' home (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis football player was dismissed from the team after Memphis Police Department charged him with rape.

The University of Memphis got a big win over a ranked United States Naval Academy team Saturday, but hours before kickoff, one of the team's star players allegedly committed a crime.

Starting senior defensive lineman Ernest Suttles was arrested, charged with rape, and dismissed from the team Saturday.

University of Memphis released the following statement about the situation:

"Ernest Suttles has been dismissed from the University of Memphis football team for a violation of team rules in an off-campus incident. As was communicated in an earlier statement, Suttles has been removed from campus while this matter is reviewed by the Office of Student Accountability, Outreach, and Support for violations of the UofM Student Code of Conduct. During the ongoing investigation, no additional comments will be made."

Officers were at Suttles' home Saturday morning to investigate.

It's another public embarrassment for the University of Memphis football team as it is the team's second important player to be arrested this season.

Coach Mike Norvell spoke after the win about Suttles' arrest.

"We've got guys that have made some mistakes, with things that obviously have come out that are embarrassing to our football team," Norvell said. "But at the end of the day we stand for the right things, we're working to build the character of the young men we have."

Officers responded to the report of an assault at St. Francis Hospital on Saturday at 3 a.m.

Investigators learned the alleged incident occurred on Douglass Avenue, at Suttles' home.

Neighbors said they were surprised to hear Suttles accused of such a serious crime.

"He's a really great guy and I'm very shocked and saddened to hear," said neighbor Marianne Spengler.

Suttles was named Scholar-Athlete of the Month by the Center for Athletic Academic Services at University of Memphis on October 10--four days before his arrest. All public posts about that award were deleted after his arrest.

Suttles is the second Memphis football player to be arrested in the last two weeks. On September 28, starting defensive back Shaun Rupert confessed to an armed robbery in which he allegedly pointed a gun at a victim's head and stole a laptop and watches.

Fans are extremely disappointed with the recent arrests.

"I don't like it," said season ticket holder Marvin Webb. "That's two key players that have been arrested, both of them starters."

"It's scary, it's scary out there and we got to get a handle on it," said lifelong Memphis fan Doug Golden.

"I really think people make their choices, they have to live with the consequences and I think coach is following the policies of the school and that's the best we can do, the best the coach and the staff can do," said Tigers fan Andrew Crowder.

The police affidavit for Suttles' arrest stated the Tigers football player and the alleged victim had been in a sexual relationship for the last two months.

Suttles will appear in court Monday morning at 9 a.m.

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